FDACS: Pandemic Garnered $262 Million in Losses for Florida School Lunch Providers

The Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (FDACS) Division of Food, Nutrition and Wellness released a report at the end of last week detailing financial effects of COVID-19 on National School Lunch Program (NSLP) sponsors, including public schools and non-profit private schools.

The report summary can be found here.

School Meals: During the 2019-2020 school year, over 400 sponsors at more than 4,000 sites served daily meals to students through the NSLP, of which 71 percent of Florida students qualify for free or reduced-price meals. NSLP sponsors are reimbursed for each breakfast, lunch, and snack served that meet federal nutrition guidelines and meal components.

Summer BreakSpot Transition: Amid school closures due to COVID-19, Florida school districts transitioned from providing NSLP services to the Summer Food Service Program (SFSP) and the Seamless Summer Option (SSO), together known as Summer BreakSpot, operating at schools, non-profits, and other community-based organizations. From March through June, Summer BreakSpot sponsors served 59,247,081 meals at 3,775 sites across Florida.

These school closures and transition led to financial effects for Florida school districts, including:

  • $261.9 million in estimated combined sales and reimbursement losses
  • $199.1 million in estimated meal reimbursement losses to sponsors
  • $159 million in total estimated losses to school district nutrition fund balances
  • $62.7 million in estimated sale revenue losses
  • 61 percent estimated decrease in meals served vs. 2019 (87.9 million meals)

“During COVID-19 school closures, our top priority has been providing access to nutritious meals for Florida’s students and ensuring children don’t go hungry,” said state Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried on Friday. “Despite navigating supply disruptions, efforts to keep staff and students safe, and the financial challenges highlighted in our new report, National School Lunch Program sponsors have continued doing an outstanding job keeping Florida’s children fed.”

In March, FDACS was approved for a federal waiver to provide flexibility for schools, childcare institutions, and community organizations to feed children during the current COVID-19 school closures. On March 15, Fried activated the department’s Summer BreakSpot and Seamless Summer Option programs. On May 15, three federal waivers were extended to allow FDACS to continue serving meals without disruption throughout the summer.

FDACS is the state agency that funds Florida’s school lunch program, through $1.3 billion in federal funding. In the 2018-19 school year, Florida’s schools served 286,734,316 school lunches, of which 245,782,422 were free or reduced lunches. These schools served 2,908,335 Florida students, of which 2,089,852 were students receiving free or reduced lunches.

 

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