All Lakota Students Eligible for Free Meal Program

All Lakota Students Eligible for Free Meal Program
Posted on 09/12/2020

In response to the financial hardship felt nationwide as a result of the novel Coronavirus (COVID-19), the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has announced an opportunity to provide free meals to all students through an anticipated date of Dec. 31, 2020 at no cost to the district. This applies to students learning both in-person and through the district’s Virtual Learning Option (VLO).

Beginning Wednesday, Sept. 16, student accounts will not be charged for any breakfast or lunch meals that meet the regular meal criteria set forth by the USDA. All students can receive one breakfast and one lunch daily at no cost. A-la-carte purchases will still be charged as usual. VLO students are able to participate in a twice-weekly meal distribution program where they can receive up to 10 meals.

“We are grateful for the additional assistance for our families who are struggling financially, but didn’t necessarily qualify for the federal free and reduced meal program,” said Craig Hatfield, Lakota’s senior director of business operations, which includes the district’s Child Nutrition program. 

“I still caution families who would normally qualify for free and reduced meals to complete the application process so they can continue with the program even after this program ends,” he continued. To ensure eligibility beyond the program’s end, please submit your free/reduced application by Nov. 1. 

To qualify for the USDA waiver, a free meal must include at least three of the available components, which include: milk, fruit (or juice for breakfast), grain, meat / meat alternative and vegetable (available at lunch only). A fruit or vegetable must make up one of the three components of a student lunch. View daily breakfast and lunch menu options. 

In spite of the challenges presented by additional COVID-19 safety guidelines, Lakota’s Child Nutrition Department has continued to provide many of the same food options available before the shutdown. Depending on participation levels under the expanded free meal program, some menu items may be subject to change to maintain current safety procedures.