The sudden school closings last week put a temporary stop to on-campus education, but for some students, it took away more than that. It meant many of them wouldn’t receive the free or reduced-price lunches that are served in Orange County Public Schools.
More than half of the public school students in Orange County receive nutritious meals through the program.
The Foundation for OCPS is making sure those students have access to breakfast and lunch as long as schools are closed. The school district’s Food and Nutrition Services Department is providing all of the food, about 45,000 meals daily.
The meals are free for children 18 and younger and are being funded through the Florida Department of Agriculture.
“The district has 68% of students eligible for meals at no charge and rely on school meals for their main source of nutrition,” said Lorena Arias, OCPS media relations.
The program started Monday, March 23, and operated like a drive-thru service. District staff handed out packages to children who walked or rode their bicycle to the schools, as well as parents who were lined up in the car loop to pick up food.
Identification is not needed, families do not have to qualify for free and reduced-price meals, and students and parents can go to any of the 50 participating schools, according to OCPS.
The Lynx bus transportation system is offering free service through March 27 to all children and their parents going to and from Grab-and-Go locations. Parents are required to be accompanied by their child to receive free fare and must inform the driver they are going to the school for a Grab-and-Go meal.
The following school sites within or near West Orange County are among 50 Grab-and-Go stations set up by OCPS. Adjustments are being made to the locations depending on daily participation.
• Apopka Middle School, 425 N. Park Ave., Apopka
• Dr. Phillips High School, 6500 Turkey Lake Road, Orlando
• Evans High School, 4949 Silver Star Road, Orlando
• Frangus Elementary School, 380 Killington Way, Orlando
• Gotha Middle School, 9155 Gotha Road, Windermere
• Lake Gem Elementary School, 4801 Bloodhound St., Orlando
• Maxey Elementary School, 602 E. Story Road, Winter Garden
• Orlo Vista Elementary School, 3 N. Hastings St., Orlando
• Pine Hills Elementary School, 1006 Ferndell Road, Orlando
• Rolling Hills Elementary School, 3607 Damon Road, Apopka
• Wekiva High School, 2501 N. Hiawassee Road, Apopka
• Wheatley Elementary School, 1475 Marvin C. Zanders Ave., Apopka.
Each package included breakfast, lunch and breakfast for the next day.
OCPS provided the meal plan for each week. Breakfast each day will include milk, juice and a fruit cup, as well as an assortment of cereal, a cereal bar with cheese stick, Pop-Tart or muffin.
Lunches vary and will include a peanut-butter-and-jelly sandwich, chicken tenders, pizza, burger sliders or chicken nuggets.