Fried Says Food Prices Won’t Interrupt Meal Program

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Posted May 19, 2022 | By Florida News Service

As food costs rise amid broader inflation, state Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried said Tuesday she does not expect an interruption to summer nutrition programs at schools. 

The Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services administers the federally funded Summer BreakSpot program, which provides free meals to children 18 and younger at schools and locations such as parks and libraries. 

“Once our summer BreakSpots start back up, we are getting the money from the USDA (U.S. Department of Agriculture). The food programs are going to be in place,” Fried, a Democratic candidate for governor, said during a news conference in Tallahassee. 

Fried acknowledged the higher-than-usual cost of food and told reporters that she is in talks with the federal government about ways to mitigate costs for the agriculture industry. “We are also monitoring some of the underlying issues of what is going into the increased cost of food. So, we are seeing a significant increase in the cost of fertilizer. So, we have been on the calls with USDA, with my counterparts across the country with our ag (agricultural) commodities growers here in the state, figuring out how much longer this is,” Fried said. 

Rising gasoline prices also have affected the cost of food production. The federal and state governments this month relaxed rules related to fuel blends that include a type of ethanol, in an effort to bolster the supply of gasoline. But Fried on Tuesday said her department is “looking at other options” for how to bring down fuel costs.