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Summer lunch programs are extended in local schools

Pre-packaged meals will contine until shortly before school starts.

With summer now longer for Tampa Bay area school children, summer lunch programs have been extended as well.

The Hillsborough and Pinellas County school districts both announced Thusday that children can continue to receive breakfast and lunch at designated locations as the schools prepare for later reopening dates because of COVID-19.

Pinellas County Schools is extending the Summer BreakSpot meal distributions through Wednesday, August 19 at the locations and times it has used all summer. The district’s Food and Nutrition staff will provide students 6-day breakfast and lunch packets between 8:00 a.m. and 11:00 a.m. on August 5 and 12. Another four days of meals will be provided on Aug. 19. The students must be 18 years old or younger, or 21 and younger of they have special needs; and present to receive the meals.

In Hillsborough, “Grab-and-Go” packages that were to end on Wednesday will now be distributed through Aug. 13. Distributions happen Monday through Thursday from 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. at 70 schools throughout the district. Families will continue to be required to provide either a student number or their child’s name and date of birth.

“It is imperative that our families continue to receive critical supports like our Summer Fuel Up initiative as they navigate through this uncertain time,” Superintendent Addison Davis said in a written annoucement.

Both districts, along with Pasco County, plan to reopen their schools on Aug. 24 with roughly half of all students learning online.

On the national front, the the non-profit School Nutrition Association is pressing Congress to pass several pieces of legislation that would expand access to school meals in the coming school year.

The Pandemic Child Hunger Prevention Act would guarantee every child has safe access to healthy school meals during 2020-21. This plan for universal feeding “spares overburdened schools the massive task of distributing and processing meal applications and reduces the stigma for children who depend on free meals,” the organization said. The change would also help with social distancing in the lunch line.

H.R. 7764, The Child Nutrition Relief Act of 2020, would extend all existing COVID-19 school feeding waivers through June 30, 2021.