Kierstin Phillips

All students in need are encouraged to take advantage of free breakfast and lunch until Oct. 22.

Jennifer Schmid, Photographer

Weeks later, Hurricane Irma continues to leave many Seminole students financially devastated. Although the power lines have since been fixed and running water returned to homes, local families continue to struggle with the consequences of low food supplies and the monetary toll of restocking their fridges. In order to assist fellow Noles through this difficult time, Seminole County Public Schools decided to offer free breakfast and free lunch for all students until Oct. 22. This means that for the next two weeks, Noles can still receive help from the school. 

After Hurricane Irma impacted Central Florida, the decision was made to provide all students in Seminole County with free meals throughout the school day. The idea was that by knowing that their children would be getting two full meals everyday at school, parents would no longer have to worry about sending money or food. Parents could instead focus on other problems, such as repairs from Irma.

“It helps ease the burden of the financial strains that people have gone through from not being able to work due to the hurricane and not having enough money,” said lunch manager Brenda Weber.

As a result, cafeteria lines are a little bit longer than usual, but the staff is doing everything it can to ensure that students are served as fast as possible. On average, around 1400 students were buying lunch prior to Irma; now, there are approximately 1600 students purchasing lunch from school. Additionally, there are about 60 more students buying breakfast now. It is evident that a number of students are benefiting from the opportunities afforded to them by the school, so the program has been successful. 

The lunch staff is overjoyed that they are able to provide food for those students in need, even if they have never eaten with the school’s dining services before.

“It’s fun to see new faces. It’s also very fulfilling that we’re able to do something for the students and their families. We’ve actually really enjoyed it,” said Weber.

Dining services is running this program at a cost; in other words, they do not make a profit from providing free lunch or breakfast. They pay all the bills that are required to be paid, and any surplus goes back to schools. 

Any students in need are encouraged to take advantage of the program until Oct. 22. There is no sign-up or application process required; students simply use their regular student ID number in the lunch line.