Florida launches 24/7 hotline for children’s meals

Families can text FLKIDSMEALS to 211-211 to find free meal locations near them

Lunch programs to help students during break
Lunch programs to help students during break

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services has launched a 24-hour hotline for families seeking free meals for children under the age of 18.

On Friday, Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried announced her office has partnered with 2-1-1 to activate a text line and call center that’s open to families who need help making ends meet with schools closed during the statewide coronavirus outbreak.

“For so many of Florida’s children, school meals are the only meals they can count on – that’s why we’re now providing even more ways to secure healthy, nutritious meals for kids,” Fried said. “Floridians can now find Summer BreakSpot free meal locations by text, by phone, and online, with additional locations being added every day. We encourage families to take advantage of these free resources, and to check with their school districts on other meal availability.”

Families looking to take advantage of this state program can text FLKIDSMEALS to 211-211 to find the location nearest them. They can also call 2-1-1 24 hours a day to speak with a live operator.

As of Friday, an estimated 1,000 Summer BreakSpot sites are open across the state, including locations in Alachua, Baker, Bradford, Clay, Duval and Union counties. Columbia, Flagler, Nassau, Putnam and St. Johns counties will join that list starting on Monday.

For unlisted counties, the state recommends that families contact their school districts to see if school meals are available. The state also has a children’s meal locator website families can use to find nearby locations.