HILLSBOROUGH COUNTY, Fla. — Fifty seven cars-- that's how many people were turned away Wednesday when attempting to pick up a week's worth of meals at Hillsborough County Public School's "Grab-and-Go" sites. And there may be more.
Why? School district Superintendent Addison Davis said it's because some people are showing “undesired behaviors” and taking advantage of the system.
“It’s a shame that a few of our community members would go to multiple sites, take food away from children and seek to build their financial portfolio on children who will not have food today”
That's the message Davis had for those caught taking more than one meal or even selling the food on social media to make a profit.
The school district served 920,000 meals to students Wednesday to help feed them through school closures due to the coronavirus pandemic. Some families depend on this food during a tough financial time to ensure their kids are fed.
Davis said they were prepared to help all students and even took an average of all their sites over the last two weeks to make sure all were fed, that's why these actions are so upsetting.
“What I’m most upset about is, you know it’s a shame that we found out that some of our constituents were coming through the lines and visiting multiple schools and taking away food for children in need," Davis said. "That just can’t happen.”
Now, Davis plans on putting organizational controls in place next week, to make sure they have a deeper analysis to identify if a student has picked up at a school to prevent this from happening again.
Davis finds these individuals are "doing this to hurt children,” which goes against their single goal to protect them.
47 cars that stopped at the school districts distribution sites already had food in their car and were turned away, according to Davis.
While Davis does sympathize with the fact that most of us are in "unchartered waters" and that many families are experiencing hardship due to COVID-19, it does not excuse poor behavior. he expects better from community members, every day.
“We’re in the business to make certain that we build vibrant young [sic], and build the lives of every one of our learners so that they can be successful," Davis said. "As adults no matter how bad our situations may be, we should always seek to protect every learner within our organization every single day.”
Hillsborough County Public Schools currently operates 147 meal distribution sites and 150 buses going to distribution touchpoints across 300 different routes.
The school district began meal distribution on March 23. This week meal sites were turned over to once a week pick up. If you have a student in need, you can find a site near you here.
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