Free meals for students during unscheduled coronavirus break

State also activates children’s meals website for coronavirus school closures

VIDEO: The Duval County school district will be handing out free curbside lunches and snacks.

JACKSONVILLE,, Fla. – All Florida public schools will be closed through April 15, and some parents are still scrambling to find child care and keep their kids fed.

Locally, many school districts are ensuring students are still getting the midday meals they count on by providing lunches that can be picked up at various locations.

Duval County

Starting Tuesday, the Duval County school district will be handing out free curbside lunches and snacks.

The lunches may be picked up curbside at all district managed schools between 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. Students may receive the meal at their nearest school location.

Students do not have to go to the school they attend, but the student must be present to receive the meal, the district said.

On Tuesday, the students were given chicken over ramen, fruit, carrots, and their choice of regular or chocolate milk.

One mom said it was a blessing for her and her three children, and another said it even gave them something to keep the kids busy for part of the day with the trip up to the school to pick up the food.

News4jax reporter Ashley Harding joins us from Carter G. Woodson Elementary School in Northwest Jacksonville to explain how the Duval County school district will be handing out free curbside lunches and snacks to students because of school closures.

Clay County

The Clay County School District will be providing breakfast and lunch for students during the week of March 16, the school district said. Breakfast will be served from 8 a.m. to 9 a.m. and lunch will be served from 12 p.m. to 1 p.m.

All meals will be prepackaged and distributed at the parent pick-up or bus loop to be consumed off-site and children must be present to receive their meal. The preferred way to distribute meals is by vehicle; however, foot traffic is allowed if necessary, the district said.

Meals will be available at the following sites:

  • Keystone Heights Jr./Sr. High
  • Charles E. Bennett Elementary
  • W.E. Cherry Elementary
  • Ridgeview Elementary
  • Wilkinson Elementary

At this time, Clay County schools will not be providing meal service during the regularly scheduled Spring Break, March 23-30, due to federal restrictions. If this should change, the district said it will notify families immediately.

Flagler County

Flagler Schools will offer a feeding program for all youth 18 years and younger Monday, March 23, through Friday, March 27, which was previously announced as an “extended Spring Break” in reaction to the fight against the spread of the COVID-19 novel coronavirus.

Flagler Schools Food & Nutrition Services will provide free a lunch for the day and a breakfast for the next day in a “grab and go” form. They will be available daily from 10 a.m. to noon.

Federal regulations require meals be provided only to children, so they must be present to receive the food. The following schools will be sites:

  • Bunnell Elementary School
  • Indian Trails Middle School
  • Wadsworth Elementary/Buddy Taylor Middle Schools
  • Flagler-Palm Coast High School

The district is working with other social service organizations to provide food to adults in the community.

There will be signage directing people where they need to go to pick up their meals. The process will be re-evaluated daily, and changes might be made if it will help move the lines. It may be necessary to move or add sites. If this occurs, the district will give families an update as soon as possible.

If there are any questions about this program, contact Flagler Schools Food Services at 386-437-7526, ext. 1155.

Union County

Both breakfast and lunch will be provided together from 11 a.m. - 1 p.m. March 17 through March 19. Any student (regardless of grade level) in the district may pick up their meals from ANY of the following locations:

  • Lake Butler Elementary School Cafeteria
  • Providence Village Baptist Church
  • First Baptist of Raiford
  • Sardis Baptist Church

Each student must be present to receive their own meal and meals are available on a first-come, first-served basis.

Alachua County

Alachua County Public Schools announced free packaged meals will be given out to children. Packaged meals will be given March 16, when school was originally scheduled, to children of all ages at Eastside, Buchholz, Gainesville, Santa Fe, Newberry, and Hawthorne high schools. They will also be available at Howard Bishop Middle School and the SWAG Community Service Center at 807 SW 64th Terrace.

From 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. lunch and breakfast for the next morning will be available each day through Thursday, March 19.

Commissioner Nikki Fried Activates Children’s Meals Website for COVID-19 School Closures

Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried and the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (FDACS) activated their Summer BreakSpot website, where families can find free meals for children under 18 during the current coronavirus school closures. The meal locations may be found at

As of March 15, there are 934 active BreakSpot sites statewide in the following counties: Alachua, Baker, Brevard, Broward, Charlotte, Clay, Collier, Miami-Dade, Duval, Franklin, Gilchrist, Hamilton, Hardee, Hillsborough, Lake, Lee, Leon, Levy, Liberty, Manatee, Marion, Osceola, Palm Beach, Pasco, Pinellas, Polk, St. Johns, St. Lucie, Santa Rosa, and Seminole. The number of locations will steadily increase as FDACS approves additional BreakSpot site applications. Users should check the open dates on the map, however, as some locations will not be active during the Spring Break week.

“Social distancing and avoiding crowded areas, like school cafeterias, are critical to slowing the spread of COVID-19. But we can’t let Florida’s children go hungry in the meantime,” said Fried. “That’s why we’re activating our Summer BreakSpot locations, to offer families an alternative way to find healthy, nutritious meals. For many children, these meals will be the only meals they can count on, so we’re encouraging families to take advantage of this service.”

About the Authors:

Florida-born multi-media journalist pays special attention to issues in St. Johns County.

Digital reporter who has lived in Jacksonville for more than 25 years and focuses on important local issues like education and the environment.