The USDA (U.S. Department of Agriculture) has now extended the free meal program through the end of this 2020=2021 school year.  This means that all students qualify for free meals through June 30, 2021.  This unprecedented move is part of USDA’s commitment to ensuring that all children across America have access to nutritious food as the nation recovers from the COVID-19 pandemic.

USDA had previously extended child nutrition waivers through December 2020 based upon available funding at the time.  This would have only taken the program through the first semester, and students would have had to complete a new free and reduced lunch form for  second semester.  Now, all students are taken care of for this school year.

This will allow the free meal program to continue for all students attending our Jackson County and Scottsboro City Schools.  It is hoped that this will provide some relief for parents at this time.

  “As our nation recovers and reopens, we want to ensure that children continue to receive the nutritious breakfasts and lunches they count on during the school year wherever they are, and however they are learning,: said Sonny Perdue, U.S. Secretary of Agriculture.  “We are grateful for the heroic efforts by our school food service professionals who are consistently serving healthy meals to kids during these trying times, and we know they need maximum flexibility right now.  I appreciate President Trump for his unwavering commitment to ensuring kids receive the food they need during this pandemic and for supporting USDA in continuing to provide these unprecedented flexibilities.

  This program allows meals to be served outside of the typically required group setting and meal times.  Children who are attending schools virtually may pick up their meals at their schools which provide a designated time for this.  Parents may check with their children’s schools for more information about the pick-up meals.

  USDA understands that a one-size-fits-all approach is not an effective way to feed children, particularly during the current challenges facing our country.  USDA can extend these waivers due to language in the continuing resolution signed into law by President Trump last week.  It allows schools to operate a meal service program that best suits their needs.

  Parents who need more information about this program, may contact the child nutrition directors for their school system.  For students in the Scottsboro City School System, that person is Melva Rodgers.  She may be reached at merodgers@scottsboroschools.net.  The CNP director for Jackson County Schools is Dr. Jennifer Pritchett.  She may be reached at pritchettj@jacksonk12.org.

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