Collier schools offering free meals to students after USDA extended summer food program

Rachel Fradette Naples Daily NewsPublished 7:11 PM EDT Sep 16, 2020Collier County Public Schools is offering m

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Collier County Public Schools is offering meals at no cost to students until their December break.

Elizabeth Alfaro, Collier's director of nutrition services, said all students 18 years old and younger are eligible for meals.

Students enrolled in eCollier Academy and home education are included. Charter school students are also included.

The district started curbside meal pickup after schools closed in March due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Alfaro said about 1.4 million meals were distributed to students from mid-March through Aug. 19.

A federal waiver issued in late August by the U.S. Department of Agriculture allows the department's Summer Food Service Program to run through Dec. 31.

The program permits public schools, like Collier, to distribute free breakfast and lunch to students enrolled for in-person or virtual learning.

Collier schools will distribute meals up until Dec. 18, the last day before winter break.

Students do not need to be present for their parents or guardians to pick up their meals, according to the district.

More: Collier schools launches COVID-19 dashboard reversing stance on sharing data

Families with children in virtual learning can pick up both breakfast and lunch at the closest Collier school every weekday at the set time. Times differ for high schools, middle schools and elementary schools.

All schools will have grab-and-go pickup.

Curbside pickup times:

  • High schools: 7:30-8:30 a.m.
  • Elementary schools: 8:30-9 a.m.
  • Middle schools: 9:30-10 a.m.
  • Everglades City School: 9:30-10 a.m.

Alfaro said the department developed its daily schedule while collaborating with the transportation department and administration to determine an optimum time for families to grab their meals.

Collier students started back to school on Aug. 31.

More: Back to school in Collier County: A look inside an atypical first day back

In an effort to not interfere with serving breakfast at brick-and-mortar schools, the schedule allows nutrition services workers time to set up for grab-and-go outside school buildings, Alfaro said. 

Alfaro said some products, like peanut butter, are impacted by ongoing shortages from the pandemic. 

"We're doing the best we can to keep the quality high," Alfaro said. "But we are experiencing shortages and working around them." 

Rachel Fradette is an education reporter for the Naples Daily News. Follow her on Twitter: @Rachel_Fradette, email her at

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