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Jasper County Tribune

Free school meals extended

USDA announces program to run through 2020-21 school year

While there are many worries attributed to the current pandemic, feeding kids at school is not one of them. The United States Department of Agriculture recently announced it is extending flexibilities to allow free meals to continue to be available to all children throughout the entire 2020-21 school year.

“As our nation recovers and reopens, we want to ensure that children continue to receive the nutritious breakfasts and lunches they count on during the school year wherever they are, and however they are learning,” U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue said. “We are grateful for the heroic efforts by our school food service professionals who are consistently serving healthy meals to kids during these trying times, and we know they need maximum flexibility right now. I appreciate President Trump for his unwavering commitment to ensuring kids receive the food they need during this pandemic and for supporting USDA in continuing to provide these unprecedented flexibilities.”

Previously, the districts participated in the USDA Summer Food Service Program which allowed for a safe and streamlined service of nutritious meals through December. The latest announcement is an extension of that program through June 30, 2021 or until available funding runs out.

At Colfax Mingo, all students are eligible for the free meals.As has been the case, any additional items require a purchase from the student’s lunch account.

“A special thank you to all that our nutrition staff does for our students beyond just making a meal for breakfast and lunch everyday,” Colfax-Mingo Superintendent Erik Anderson said. “You are appreciated.”

At Baxter, all enrolled students ages 18 and under will be eligible for free meals (breakfast and lunch), no matter their meal eligibility status of free, reduced or paid including those fully on site, fully remote or intermittent online due to the school district requiring quarantine.

Virtual learners interested in picking up take-home meals can contact food service director Amy Clark at aclark@wmcsd.org for more information or to receive the order form. Ala carte options will be available and charged to the student’s meal account meal account notices will still be sent home weekly depending on the balance.

“These waiver extensions are great news for America’s students and the school nutrition professionals working so hard to support them throughout this pandemic,” School Nutrition Association President Reggie Ross, SNS, said. “Families struggling to make ends meet can be assured that their students will have access to healthy school meals, whether they are learning at home or in school. School meal programs can remain focused on safely meeting nutritional needs of children in their communities without having to worry about burdensome regulations. The School Nutrition Association appreciates USDA’s ongoing efforts to address the many challenges our members have faced while working on the front lines to feed hungry children.”

Contact Jamee A. Pierson at 641-792-3121 ext. 6534 or jpierson@newtondailynews.com

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