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Class Of COVID-19: Keys Schools Find New Solutions For Student Hunger Problem

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Illustration by Camila Kerwin
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KEY WEST — When the bell rang at the end of a recent Thursday at Horace O'Bryant School, Lamesha Portier was stationed with a cart in the courtyard. It was laden with bags containing cereal, milk and juice — plus, that night's dinner: tacos with rice and beans.

Heading into weekends, the bags are even bigger.

"Friday bags, we put about four or five breakfasts and then, like, three lunches and suppers, and milk and juice," she said.

It's long been true that some students who attend Monroe County schools struggle with not having enough food to eat, and COVID-19 has made the situation worse. Educators say the pandemic also has led to new solutions for student hunger.

When schools first closed last spring to slow the spread of the coronavirus, the district began delivering meals to families along the school bus route. Now, in addition to providing breakfast and lunch to students, schools are sending kids home with food, to get them through weekends and holidays.

Find the rest of the story here.

'Class of COVID-19: An Education Crisis For Florida's Vulnerable Students' WJCT News 89.9 Special

WJCT News 89.9 will air the one-hour radio special on "The Class of COVID-19" on Friday, Feb. 19 at 8 p.m. It will also be streamed on WJCT.org and in the WJCT app.

'Class of COVID-19: An Education Crisis For Florida's Vulnerable Students' Jax PBS Special

WJCT-TV 7.1 will air the one-hour TV special on "The Class of COVID-19" on Monday, February 22 at 9 p.m. on antenna TV channel 7.1, Comcast channels 8 and 440. It will also be streamed on Passport and in the WJCT app. The special will encore on Wednesday, Feb. 24 at 5:00 p.m. 

WJCT.org is also running a portion of many of the stories.

WLRN education reporter Jessica Bakeman contributed reporting for this story.

This story is part of the Florida Public Media series, "Class of COVID-19: An Education Crisis For Florida's Vulnerable Students." Find the whole project — and sign up for our limited-run newsletter — at classofcovid.org.

“Class of COVID-19” is being produced through a partnership with the following public media organizations: WLRN (Miami), WGCU (Fort Myers), WFSU (Tallahassee), WUSF (Tampa), WMFE (Orlando) , WUCF (Orlando), WPBT/WXEL (Miami/Boynton Beach), WJCT (Jacksonville), WEDU (Tampa) and WUWF (Pensacola).

The project is supported in part by the Hammer Family Charitable Foundation and the Education Writers Association.