ST. JOHNS COUNTY, Fla. – Some St. Johns County students will have to start paying for school meals again, according to a message sent to families from the St. Johns County School District Director of Food and Nutrition Services Sean Prevatt.
The message says the coronavirus pandemic has impacted the school meal program.
“In short, we’re having trouble getting foods, supplies and staff to support our program. Your student(s) may notice that we’re serving different items than we’ve served in the past or different items than were listed on the menu,” the message reads.
To reduce the demand on the supply chain and accommodate current staffing levels, according to the message, the district will return to normal food service operations on Dec. 1. That means students who qualify for free or reduced-cost meals will continue to receive meals. However, students who are not eligible, based on their family’s income, will be required to pay.
Prevatt had told News4Jax last week that the school district would be transitioning back to families having to apply for free and reduced meals as they did before the pandemic.
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Currently, students nationwide can get free lunch regardless of income status after the U.S. Department of Agriculture extended that program through June 2022. But the St. Johns County School District said the only way it can keep up with demand at this point is to end that program in the district, which Prevatt believes will cut the number of meals they serve by as much as 30%.
Through Nov. 30, families are encouraged to complete the family lunch application if they feel they qualify for free or reduced-cost meals. Applications can be found at https://www.stjohns.k12.fl.us/food/free/, the student’s school or the Food and Nutrition Services Office located at 3015 Lewis Speedway, Building 7, St. Augustine, FL, 32084.
“If your student(s) attend(s) a Community Eligibility Program School, there is no need to complete an application. All students will continue to receive no-cost meals through the end of the school year. These schools are as follows: Webster Elementary, Crookshank Elementary, Osceola Elementary, South Woods Elementary, Mason Elementary, The Transitions School, Gamble Rogers Middle School, Murray Middle School, Sebastian Middle School and St. Johns Technical High School,” the message from Prevatt says.