MARION COUNTY, Fla. (WCJB)-- While all Florida public schools have been shut down due to coronavirus concerns, many in North Central Florida are still working to provide students with learning materials and food.
In Marion County, school officials have coordinated a 'Grab and Go' meal program.
Children 18 and younger, including those outside of the public school system are being provided with breakfast, lunch, and a snack each day.
First buses are loaded up with meals to be delivered to students.
Francella Alexander has four stops on her delivery route. She said she delivers roughly 70 meals to kids throughout the morning.
"It melts my heart to see those babies come running for their lunch. They love it and they say thank you, thank you, I just love it,” Alexander said.
After final checks, the busses roll out so they can make it to their first stop by 9:30 - and once the busses leave, parents drive up.
Several Marion County families are taking advantage of the school district's free 'Grab and Go' meal program so they can make sure their children are taken care of while schools are closed.
"I think it's fantastic. Yesterday was our first day and we came through and we got our lunches as well as our breakfasts and when they opened the packages there was plenty of food in there, everything that they needed,” Great Grandmother Ruth Etta Reed said.
In just 10 minutes, Oakcrest staff provided 86 breakfasts and lunches to families.
For some parents, this service is essential.
"I think it's super helpful. I can't find bread or flour or really anything in the grocery stores right now and I don't want to take my kids into the grocery store right now so this is kind of the only thing we've got right now,” Parent, Lucy Bebout said.
On the first day of the ‘Grab and Go’ program, food service provided over 6,156 meals to 3,078 children throughout the county.
With such high demand, school officials said they will likely be expanding this service adding more bus stops and grab and go meal locations starting next week.
For meal locations, visit MCPS website: https://www.marionschools.net/site/default.aspx?PageType=3&DomainID=4&ModuleInstanceID=78982&ViewID=6446EE88-D30C-497E-9316-3F8874B3E108&RenderLoc=0&FlexDataID=93339&PageID=1