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Education

Federal Government Helps Cover Florida's School Nutrition Program During Pandemic

 Florida Department of Agriculture & Consumer Services Commissioner Nikki Fried
Florida Department of Agriculture & Consumer Services Commissioner Nikki Fried

Even while many schools were closed, staff continued delivering meals to homebound students

During a media event at the Florida Capitol on Tuesday , July 6, Tallahassee State Representative Alison Tant said many of Florida's public school food service staff and teachers kept their students fed during the pandemic.

"They were providing food 3 and 4 times a week. They were getting on school buses and taking food to children and their families throughout the pandemic and especially at this time last year when there was a lot of fear and confusion."

The resulting cost to the school districts was estimated at $262 million. Florida Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried, said she asked Governor Ron DeSantis for help covering that expense.

"So we sent at least one if not two letters to the governor asking for money to be allocated to the school nutrition program and never received a response back from the governor."

So Fried said she appealed to the U.S. Department of Agriculture and got a better response.

"We are providing $93 million to our Florida schools for pandemic loss reimbusement and this is coming from the federal government."

Fried said some of that money has already been sent with the rest to follow this week.

After the event in front of Fried's office, news organizations asked the governor's office to comment. A spokesperson acknowledged receiving one of Fried's reimbusement request letters this past summer, but said it had been dismissed as a "political ploy." Fried, a Democrat, is running to unseat Republican DeSantis as Florida governor in next year's election.
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