Starting as soon as July, Florida school districts could be required to comply to the requests of a student or guardian to provide alternative meals and snacks.
The student or their guardian must request this option at the beginning of each semester. Upon request, the student or guardian must pay the required dollar amount, if pending legislation is approved.
Senate Bill 1376 will require Florida’s school districts to provide the student with a plant-based, kosher or halal meal or snack that complies with federal nutrition mandates at the same cost to the student as a non-plant-based, non-kosher, or non-halal meals or snacks.
This bill will also require all school districts to publish information about meal and snack alternatives on its official website.
Kimberly Wright, a mother of two daughters, says she likes the idea of her kids being able to choose an alternative meal.
“I love the idea of my kids having additional options because they always come home and complain about eating the same food. It will save money that I spend on their snacks for school,” Wright said.
Although some parents seem in favor of the bill, other parents disagree with the requirements.
Timothy Wallace, a single father of one, says the idea is great but he doesn’t like the fact that he must pay additional money.
“I feel like single parents should be given a pass considering we make significantly less money. I pay enough between my bills, my son’s school clothes and the required school supplies that they never use,” Wallace said.
Students that are eligible for free or reduced-price meals are encouraged to take full advantage of this bill if it is passed.
Kio’Vonne Koat, a Florida public schools nutritionist, says she welcomes the additional choices for her students.
“I often have students that don’t even eat lunch because they don’t like the options available. I think this would immediately impact those students that typically complain about the food options. It would be great to feed and satisfy all of my students for once,” Koat said.
This bill was filed on March 1 by Florida Senator Ana Maria Rodriguez, a Republican from Miami-Dad County As of March 9, the bill has been sent to the following committees: Agriculture, Education Pre-K -12 and Fiscal Policy.
If all goes as proposed, this bill will go into effect on July 1 and Florida schools must comply to the requests from students or their guardians.