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USDA Assists Florida Children Affected by Irma

WASHINGTON, Sept. 16, 2017 -- The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced today it is making it easier for Florida schools affected by Hurricane Irma to feed students during this time of great need. The measures will potentially impact over 1,800 schools and 1.4 million children.

All students in affected disaster areas in Florida will now be able to enjoy free school meals provided by USDA’s National School Lunch Program through Oct. 20.

To further streamline program administration, schools and facilities in these areas can temporarily serve meals that do not meet the menu planning or meal pattern requirements through Oct. 20.  USDA is also providing flexibility regarding when kids can be fed, given the preparation challenges caused by the natural disaster.

“In times of disaster, it’s paramount that USDA makes it as easy as possible for our programs to be administered, so no one affected by this disaster goes hungry,” said USDA Secretary Sonny Perdue. “Florida is currently reporting shortages of certain food products, so these sensible and timely flexibilities will ensure children receive the assistance needed.”

USDA has also granted schools the option to operate the Summer Meals Programs during the year for unanticipated school closures.

Other flexibilities for affected areas of Florida include:

  • Schools that are not directly impacted by the hurricane may use their commodity foods to provide plated meals to shelters or other school food service operations.
  • The normal eligibility requirements for summer meal sites will be waived to make it simpler for sites to provide meals to children.
  • Administrative and operational reporting requirements will be extended.

For more information on FNS assistance during times of disaster, visit

USDA's Food and Nutrition Service administers 15 nutrition assistance programs, including the National School Lunch and School Breakfast programs, the Child and Adult Care Food Program, the Summer Food Service Program, the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children, and the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, which together comprise America's nutrition safety net.


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