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  • Writer's pictureParrish Civic Association

Covid-19 School Lunch Program

By Mimi Sheffer

The Coronavirus Pandemic has forever changed the way we live. The economy has ground to a halt and companies have struggled to find their footing, furloughing or laying off workers at breakneck speed. There were 17 million unemployment claims filed in the US in the three weeks ending April 9th.

Manatee County’s tourism industry has been hit hard with closed beaches, boat ramps, restaurants and hotels. The problem is cyclical – farmers are harvesting crops that are no longer being purchased by restaurants, schools and hotels, and no longer being sold to patrons, so there is no work and therefore no income to pay workers. Our entire connected system has been interrupted and people everywhere are suffering.

There are just over 50,000 students in the Manatee County School District, with 60% of those qualifying for free or reduced lunches. Many of these children rely on the free breakfast and lunch they get at school to sustain them and now, countless children are going hungry.

Recognizing the profound need, the School District of Manatee County has created a plan to offer students the ability to access a free lunch and breakfast through a drive-through pick-up system with locations all over the county. This program is open to all children in Manatee County, 18 years of age and younger, regardless of income. Children will be given a free lunch each day and a free breakfast for the next day.

In Parrish, the school lunch distribution location is the YMCA.

Here is how the program works - * Children will be able to get a meal at any of the 30+ distribution sites in the County. * Cars drive up to the checkpoint; meals are distributed through the car window. * A child must be in the vehicle to receive a lunch.

For more information, call 941-739-5700 or visit

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