USDA Extends School District Meal Service to December
School districts across the state will be able to continue their free meal programs after the United States Department of Agriculture approved an extension of waivers until Dec. 31.
“Even during the summertime, we were doing about 350 meals per day,” said Director of Food Service Shelley Ritchie. “That’s a lot of families in our community that do rely on us or benefit from us being able to offer meals.”
Now with the school year underway, they’re still offering students breakfast and lunch, whether they are learning in-person or remotely.
“We have pickup service available and we do that once a week,” Ritchie said. “They get breakfast and lunch for the entire week. All of our students at our school are free for breakfast and free for lunch, so this is the way to offer that to any student that is enrolled in our district.”
Students get a variety of food in their meal package.
“Milk comes with all breakfasts and lunch,” Ritchie said. “A breakfast has grains so it could have a bagel and then a juice. A typical lunch could look like a chicken patty sandwich. Maybe a side salad with it.”
The extension of the meal program to Dec. 31 gives the school more flexibility with what they’re able to offer.
“Eventually we’ll be able to prepackage some meals,” Ritchie said. “If we’re having spaghetti here at school, that could be an option for students as well. Something that was home cooked at school and then able to send it home so they can heat it up.”
Both parents and kids have been grateful for the program.
“Before we actually started getting it we struggled but we never thought to get any help,” said Manton School parent Jessica Szpytek. “When they started offering the meals we were like, We’ll try this out, and it’s helped a lot. The kids love the meals.”
Szpytek said the meals have given a sense of normalcy to her students learning virtually.
“They love it. Especially with the little milk cartons,” Szpytek said. “When we sit down they’re like, ‘It’s lunchtime!’ Like they’d be going to lunch at school. I will come back until they don’t offer it anymore.”