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USDA Helps Schools Feed Kids in Hurricane-Hit Georgia, Florida

Press Release
Release No.
FNS 0005.17
Contact: FNS Press Team

WASHINGTON, DC, Sept. 19, 2017 – Students in Georgia schools affected by Hurricane Irma will be provided free meals through the end of September, the U.S. Department of Agriculture announced today, along with additional flexibilities in federal child nutrition programs in Georgia and Florida aimed at making it easy for children to be fed.

Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue said today’s announcement is part of ongoing efforts to ensure all those dealing with the aftermath of Irma have food. USDA is streamlining program requirements and procedures to speed delivery of nutrition assistance to hurricane-stricken areas. Perdue added that the actions also highlight the importance of the region’s schools in the disaster response.

“Schools play a vital role in ensuring that America’s children get the nutrition they need all year long through USDA’s nutrition assistance programs, but the need they fill is even more apparent in the wake of storms like Hurricane Irma,” Perdue said. “This disaster has disrupted the lives of so many children. We will continue to work to make sure they don’t have to worry where their next meal is coming from.”

Other flexibilities announced for affected areas of Georgia include:

  • Providing schools the option to operate the Seamless Summer Option during the school year to continue serving students meals when schools have unanticipated closures.
  • Allowing schools not directly affected by the hurricane to use their commodity foods to provide plated meals to shelters or other school food service operations.
  • Allowing two schools to operate at the same location and claim meals separately for reimbursement through National School Lunch and School Breakfast programs.
  • Reducing administrative burden on schools dealing with hurricane recovery by approving several waivers and extensions of timelines related to administrative and operational activities.

In Florida, USDA is adding to previously announced flexibilities by providing additional service options for the federal Child and Adult Care Food Program, administered in Florida as the Child Care Food Program. Operators in 14 affected counties will be better able to deal with food shortages and other hurricane-related challenges because USDA is allowing them to serve meals that do not meet the typical menu planning or meal pattern requirements for child care institutions and facilities through Oct. 20.

USDA previously announced that students in disaster-designated areas of Florida would also be able to enjoy free school meals provided by USDA’s National School Lunch and School Breakfast programs through Oct. 20 as well.

Free school meals will be provided in 35 Georgia counties, including Appling, Atkinson, Bacon, Brantley, Bryan, Bulloch, Burke, Camden, Candler, Charlton, Chatham, Chattahoochee, Chattooga, Clinch, Coffee, DeKalb, Echols, Effingham, Emanuel, Evans, Glynn, Habersham, Hall, Jeff Davis, Jenkins, Liberty, Long, McIntosh, Pierce, Screven, Tattnall, Toombs, Treutlen, Ware, and Wayne), as well as Gainesville City.

For more information on FNS assistance during times of disaster, visit


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Page updated: February 27, 2023