By: Quinton Allen, CCPS Communications Specialist II
As Collier County Public Schools continues to move forward into the 2020-2021 school year, like many school districts, there has been an abundance of changes along the way. Whether it’s our students and staff members wearing protective face coverings, adhering to social distancing while on school campuses, or the virtual learning options for our students, school is just different in today’s reality.
One thing that remains familiar to our students is the extension of the District’s Summer Food Services Program (SFSP) that will continue to provide free meals! “We are thrilled to be given an opportunity to nourish more children,” shares an excited CCPS Nutrition Services Director, Elizabeth Alfaro.
The District remains dedicated to making sure our students are well fed. With our community still being affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, the CCPS Nutrition Services Department is extending the free breakfast and lunch program to not only students who qualify, but to all our students (18 and under) – whether they qualify or not.
The extension began on Monday, September 14, and will run through Friday, December 18. The free meals will be available each weekday at all elementary, middle, and high schools – including Everglades City School and charter schools. Students who are learning virtually through Classroom Connect or eCollier Academy are also eligible to receive free meals.
Alfaro adds, “Food is a basic need and students can’t learn when they are hungry. This unprecedented move will allow children access to free meals without any barriers.” For those students who are learning from home, they can pick up their meals via curbside service during the week at the nearest and most convenient school for them. Curbside meals will also be available on Virtual Learning Days for students, which are September 18 and October 30, as referenced on the 2020-2021 Academic School Calendar.
It was back in March when Alfaro and two of her co-workers, Administrative Supervisors Kandy Messenger and Mary Scattergood, quickly put together a meal distribution plan that would provide much-needed meals for CCPS students while campuses remained closed. Little did they know the Nutrition Services team would help provide half a million meals through the end of the school year. The millionth meal was served midway through the summer; and who knows how many more meals will be provided between now and December 18!
According to Alfaro, “It feels like we are making a difference in the community. We have seen an increase in families applying for meal benefits that do not have any income due to the pandemic, and for us to be able to offer their children the food they need is truly fulfilling!” Parents can always pick up meals without their child being present. They just have to provide some form of their child’s ID, such as a student ID badge, birth certificate, social security card, or any document proving parent/ guardian identity and relationship to the child. Meal distribution times for the SFSP can be found on the District website at www.collierschools.com.