USDA Meals Program Extends through May

USDA Free Meals Program Extended through End of School Year
Posted on 12/17/2020
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USDA waiver: Free meals for all studentsIn 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 extension to its free meals program for all students announced this fall. Originally ending Dec. 31, 2020, all students learning both in-person and virtually are now eligible through the end of the 2020-2021 school year. The program is being offered at no cost to the district.

Since Sept. 16, student accounts have 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. 

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.