BRADENTON, Fla. — Starting Monday, all students in Manatee County who attend school five days a week will be able to eat for free.
At the end of August, the U.S. Department of Agriculture extended flexibilities through the end of the year, allowing summer meal program operators to keep serving free meals to all children this fall.
"This unprecedented move will help ensure – no matter what the situation is on-the-ground – children have access to nutritious food as the country recovers from the COVID-19 pandemic," the USDA wrote in a news release.
Starting on Sept. 14, students will be able to get free breakfast and lunch through the school.
Students who are at schools for classes full time will get their free meals there every day.
Students who are on a hybrid schedule can get free meals while they are at the school and get free meals to take home for the days they are not in the classrooms.
Students who are enrolled in eLearning full time, meals are available for curbside pickup between 9:30 a.m. – 10:30 a.m. on Mondays at any school. Parents don't have to register for the meals and can simply drive up and pick up. These meals will contain frozen and refrigerated items.
Cooking and heating instructions for the take-home meals can be found online.
Manatee likely won't be alone in changing its school lunch policy. Some districts have offered free meals for a while now. The Hernando County School District has been offering free meals to all students since 2018. You can learn more about Hernando's program here.
Polk, Pasco and Highlands counties will again offer free school lunches to students this year.
RELATED: Pasco County makes school lunch free
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