Florida Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried and Gov. Ron DeSantis are in a quarrel over credit score for diet funding to colleges after Fried introduced that her division obtained $93.2 million in federal emergency aid funding to Florida faculties impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic by means of the U.S. Division of Agriculture (USDA). Florida college districts misplaced $262 million in diet funding to COVID-19 within the 2020 college 12 months, based on an announcement issued by Fried’s workplace.
Fried’s workplace acknowledged that the commissioner requested DeSantis use a portion of the state’s federal CARES Act funding to help college districts and diet suppliers, and to stop workers reductions and meal service modifications attributable to monetary hardship however acknowledged the governor by no means responded.
Jason Muhon, Deputy Communications Director for the workplace of DeSantis, responded by means of an e mail by stating “we completely help offering funding for faculties to ensure they will proceed to supply diet applications, that’s not what’s up for debate. The actual fact is that with out provocation, the Commissioner of Agriculture alleged that Governor DeSantis didn’t help this funding, or offering meals for college students. That is unequivocally false. Once more, the Governor’s Workplace approved the finances modification to make the funding potential.”
Muhon acknowledged that “DeSantis and (Division of Schooling) Commissioner (Richard) Corcoran have taken repeated, deliberate and intentional actions to ensure faculties may open for in-person studying within the 2020 college 12 months, and to ensure the college districts had funding and adaptability to supply providers to their college students, together with college meals. Once more, the Governor and Commissioner Corcoran started offering monetary help and flexibilities to high school districts in March 2020. Commissioner Fried’s letter got here round September 2020.”
Fried’s division oversees Florida’s $1.3 billion college lunch and breakfast applications, answerable for feeding roughly 3 million kids greater than 300 million meals a 12 months, her workplace acknowledged.
Muhon acknowledged Corcoran’s emergency order in March of 2020 offered full college funding by means of the rest of the college 12 months and granted flexibility in how college districts may make the most of these funds.
“Because of the state making certain full funding was offered to high school districts through the time faculties had been closed, the State was capable of declare roughly $929.3 million in reimbursement funding from the Coronavirus Aid Funding (CRF),” Muhon acknowledged.
The funds introduced by Fried will likely be unfold out to 414 college meals authorities, 66 college districts, in addition to the laboratory faculties at Florida A&M College and Florida Atlantic College. This consists of 128 personal, nonprofit, and constitution faculties, and residential childcare establishments. The recipients are Nationwide College Lunch Program (NLSP) and College Breakfast Program (SBP) operators.
“Wholesome diet is so crucial to our kids, as a result of with out meals in our faculties, they will’t achieve college, which implies they will’t achieve life,” Fried acknowledged in an e mail. “COVID-19 harmed our faculties to the tune of $262 million in misplaced college diet funding, which means faculties must make some actually powerful decisions. Governors in different states had used CARES Act funding to help college diet, however sadly right here within the state of Florida, that didn’t occur – so we went on to the USDA to assist make sure that Florida’s kids wouldn’t go hungry,” Fried stated.
Fried, who’s planning to run towards DeSantis for governor in 2022, acknowledged that with 1 million kids in Florida being “meals insecure, and 71 % of college meals being free or reduced-price, we are able to’t afford any interruption at school diet.”
Muhon acknowledged that beneath the Corcoran’s emergency orders, college districts acquired “$681 million in state funding that may have in any other case been lowered attributable to a decline in scholar attendance.”