PALM BEACH COUNTY, Fla. — Area school districts are offering free meals to students during the summer at various schools and libraries.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, parents were able to pick up summer meals and take them to go. But this summer, students will have to eat their meals on site.
Summer is here, but school cafeterias in Palm Beach County public schools and beyond will still be bustling. Hundreds of schools district-wide will be serving meals on weekday mornings for free.
Anyone under 18 is welcome to enjoy a meal during the Summer Meal Program.
The Mandel Public Library in West Palm Beach is also participating. Starting on June 6, their doors will be open for lunch.
"The food program is a wonderful way for families who have a child entering kindergarten at a public school to experience what a school lunch might be," said Jennifer McQuown, the youth services manager for the Mandel Public Library.
But there’s an important change to the Summer Meal Program. Parent pick-up, as well as grab-and-go options, will not be available because of a mandate by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
Children who visit a school or library serving meals must remain on site while they eat, so the Mandel Public Library is turning the sit-down meal into full-day experience.
"We offer morning classes for younger children and then lunch comes, and then we offer programs for elementary age children after lunch, hoping families spend the entire day with us," McQuown said.