Through the end of 2020, schools in Dawson County will be providing free breakfasts and lunches to all students, regardless of age or need, thanks to federal funding through the USDA.
According to Director of School Nutrition Linda Byrd, the new free meal program continues the “Seamless Summer Option” program which normally provides meals to local students throughout the summer months while school is not in session.
“On Aug. 31, the USDA released seven nationwide waivers extending flexibilities for the Seamless Summer Option,” Byrd said. “With these waivers, School Food Authorities can choose to operate the Seamless Summer Option through December 2020 or until federal money is no longer available, whichever is sooner.”
Under the USDA waivers, all schools will be allowed to serve meals free of charge to all students and other children within the community from ages 0 to 18. The free meal program began on Sept. 1 and will last through Dec. 31, 2020.
Children won’t have to sign up for the breakfast and lunch meals, and there will be pickup options for students who are attending classes virtually due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Virtual students are offered curbside pickup,” Byrd said. “The virtual students will need to order meals through the school nutrition manager at their attendance school by 8 a.m. and pick up the meals between 11 a.m. and 11:30 a.m. each day.”
According to Byrd, the school system is happy to be able to offer the meals, and the community’s reception to the free meal program has been favorable.
“The parents are very excited and pleased that USDA has agreed to offer free meals to all students,” Byrd said.