By Travis Mounts
The United States Department of Agriculture has announced that it will extend aid to provide free school meals through the end of the year.
An Aug. 31 announcement stated that decision will give children access to nutritious food as the country recovers from the COVID-19 pandemic.
“As our nation reopens and people return to work, it remains critical our children continue to receive safe, healthy, and nutritious food. During the COVID-19 pandemic, 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,” said USDA Secretary Sonny Perdue.
Several districts noted that while the program is announced to be in effect until Dec. 31, it is possible that funding could run out before the end of year. In addition, districts still need families that would normally qualify for free or reduced lunches to fill out an application. This applies to any families who may have had an income change related to the pandemic. Those applications will be necessary to continue providing free or reduced lunches after this USDA program ends.
If you have any question, contact your local school or district office.
Here is a look at details by school district.
Argonia USD 359
All enrolled students will receive free breakfast and lunch through the end of December. No action is required by parents, and all students are automatically eligible. All meal balances will be carried over until January to be used when charges begin again. This took effect. Sept. 3.
Cheney USD 268
As of Sept. 4, all enrolled students are eligible to receive a free breakfast and free lunch each day. The district noted this runs until the end of December or until funds run out. Remote learners also will receive meals free of charge. Once the program ends, students will begin being charged for their meals. Non-reimbursable items such as adult meals, extra milk and entrees, extra sides, will be charged to meal accounts.
Clearwater USD 264
Students in Clearwater’s schools started getting free breakfasts and lunches on Sept. 8. Meals are available for all students, whether attending in person or remotely. Remote students need to notify the district daily if they are picking up food, so that the district has an accurate head count. Pick-up takes place near the football stadium, the same as during the summer lunch program, and includes lunch plus breakfast for the following day.
Conway Springs USD 356
The program took effect on Sept. 2 for students in USD 356. Information for remote students has been sent out. The district has just a small number of students who chose the remote learning option. The program covers both lunch and breakfast. All meal balances will be carried over until the program ends.
Goddard USD 265
Students are now receiving free breakfast and lunch at all of Goddard’s attendance centers. This program includes remote and hybrid learning students. Remote and hybrid learners may pick up meals at Eisenhower High School, Goddard High School and Discovery Intermediate on school days between 9:15 and 10:15 a.m. Students may be asked to show a valid student ID when picking up meals. All a-la-carte food and beverage items will remain at full price. There is still time to apply for free or reduced price meals for the entire school year. The application can be found online at www.goddardusd.com/page/76814_3.
Haysville USD 261
Free meals are now available to students in Haysville Public Schools. Remote students can pick up meals every Tuesday, but they will need to fill out a form every week specifying they want to pick up meals and at which location they will pick them up.
Renwick USD 267
As of Monday, schools in Garden Plain and the rest of USD 267 were offering free breakfast and lunch daily. No application or additional paperwork is needed. Once the program ends, students will start being charged for meals as normal. The district said it will provide as much notice as possible if funds run out before the end of the year. Non-reimbursable items such as adult meals, extra milk and entrees, extra sides, will be charged to meal accounts.