To help alleviate some of the struggles brought on by COVID19, the United States Department of Agriculture extended the federal summer food program into the school year to allow every child in public schools in the country to receive breakfast and lunch free of charge.
All students receive meals for free, regardless of financial eligibility. There is no paperwork to file or no process to be approved.
“We are continuing to be able to serve students in Macon County at no charge for the remainder of the school year,” said David Lightner, Director of Macon County Schools Nutrition Department. We are able to offer this through an extension of Summer Food Service Program waivers that are good through June 30, 2021.”
In Macon County, that means that all 4,5000 enrolled students are currently receiving free breakfast and lunch whenever they get meals at school. From August through October of this school year, Macon County Schools served 71,318 breakfasts and 84,669 lunches for a combined 155,987 meals at no cost to students.
A survey published on the Southern Scoop found that out of 268 respondents, 19.4 or 52 people were not aware that all students in all schools receive free breakfast and lunch this school year. Out of the 216 people who said they were aware of the free meal options, 52% took advantage of the opportunity, 20.4 percent did not, and the other 27.6% used the free lunch and breakfast sometimes.
The program was originally scheduled to end in late August, but the extension allows districts to continue serving breakfast and lunch at no charge to children age 18 and under as well as individuals over age 18 who have a disability and participate in school programs for the mentally or physically disabled.
In addition to providing meals to students who are at schools for in-person education, Lightner said that parents can also pick up meals for students who are enrolled in virtual courses. Meals are available for parent pick-up at Cartoogechaye, East Franklin, Franklin High, Highlands, Iotla, Macon Middle, Mountain View Intermediate, Nantahala, and South Macon between 11:00 AM and 1:00 PM.
“This is such exciting news,” Jackson County School Nutrition Director Laura Cabe said of the decision to extend the program to the end of the school year. “We are absolutely thrilled to be able to serve safe, healthy, and nutritious meals to our students and the young children in our community.”
Jackson County students who choose to continue remote instruction in Phase 2 can have meals picked up by parents and guardians at the six school locations weekdays from 11:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. excluding holidays.
Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, school nutrition professionals and FNS have partnered to feed kids – no matter what the situation looks like on the ground. For more information, visit FNS’ COVID Response: Child Nutrition Programs webpage and follow us on Twitter at @USDANutrition.