USDA extends free meals program for children through end of 2020

Jake Ryder
Eclipse News-Review

Students in the Aplington-Parkersburg and Dike-New Hartford school districts will have access to free meals through the end of the year as part of a Department of Agriculture program that has kept millions of children fed nationwide during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The reimbursable breakfast and lunch meals begin Monday, Sept. 14.

"As our nation reopens and people return to work, it remains critical our children continue to receive safe, healthy, and nutritious food," said Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue. "USDA has provided an unprecedented amount of flexibilities to help schools feed kids through the school meal programs, and today, we are also extending summer meal program flexibilities for as long as we can, legally and financially."

The program was initially meant as a summer meal program through the Summer Food Service Program and Seamless Summer Option, but these programs were started early when schools were closed near the end of the 2019-20 school year to limit spread of COVID-19.

All kids 18 and under, whether learning in-person or remotely, are eligible to receive free meals from this program. The extension is through Dec. 31, 2020, though that is based on estimated data compared to the funds remaining through the program, as funding has not been approved by the U.S. Congress for the entire 2020-2021 school year.

SFSP and SSO meals can be served in all areas, at any time, at no cost, and parents and guardians are able to pick up meals for their children.

Families are still able to fill out free and reduced lunch applications based on their needs, should the program not be extended past the end of the year. In some cases, those applications are helpful to schools in determining additional funding in areas beyond food service.


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