Florida reports $262M in losses for state’s school lunch providers due to pandemic

lunch line at school
Posted at 4:05 PM, Aug 21, 2020
and last updated 2020-08-21 16:05:27-04

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – As the coronavirus pandemic continues to leave a devastating impact on Floridians, the state’s school lunch providers are seeing huge financial losses.

The Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Service (FDACS) Division of Food, Nutrition and Wellness released a new report that shows the financial fallout caused by the pandemic. The report shows that the pandemic has cost the state’s school lunch providers nearly $262 million in “combined sales and reimbursement losses.”

During the 2019-2020 school year, more than 400 sponsors at more than 4,000 sites served daily meals to students through the National School Lunch Program (NSLP). The program served meals to students in Florida who qualified for free or reduced-price meals. NSLP sponsors are reimbursed for each breakfast, lunch and snack served “that met federal nutrition guidelines and meal components,” according to FDACS.

With the pandemic forcing schools to shut down, Florida school districts transitioned from providing NSLP services to the Summer Food Service Program (SFSP) and the Seamless Summer Option (SSO) – together known as the Summer BreakSpot – operating at schools and nonprofit organizations.

From March to June, Summer BreakSpot sponsors served more than 59 million meals at more than 3,700 sites across Florida.

FDACS reports the following financial losses due to the school closures and transition in meal programs:

  • $261.9 million in estimated combined sales and reimbursement losses
  • $199.1 million in estimated meal reimbursement losses to sponsors
  • $159 million in total estimated losses to school district nutrition fund balances
  • $62.7 million in estimated sale revenue losses
  • 61 percent estimated decrease in meals served vs. 2019 (87.9 million meals)

FDACS did not specify how these losses will impact NSLP's ability to serve meals to students for the 2020-2021 school year.