USDA Extends Free Meals

USDA Extends Free Meals for Kids through Dec. 31
Posted on 09/03/2020
This announcement in also available in Spanish.

BCS Communications

United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Extends Free Meals for Kids Through December 31, 2020.

According to a press release from the USDA, Buncombe County Schools (BCS) and school systems nationwide will be able to extend the free summer meals program through December 31, 2020. This crucial waiver will help ensure that all children in our community continue to have access to nutritious food as we navigate back-to-school plans during a pandemic.

“We are so excited to hear this news,” said School Nutrition Director Lisa Payne. “Our cafeteria staff has worked tirelessly since March 16 to provide nutritious meals to children at no cost. I always say a well-fed child is a child that’s ready and able to learn. We have served well over 1 million meals since this public health crisis began, and we are ready and willing to serve 1 million more to help students thrive during this uncertain time.”

The extension of the BCS summer meals model also allows flexibility in where and how meals are served, and it allows parents, guardians, and caregivers to pick up meals for children. Meals served through December 31 are open to all students including charter, private, and home school students at no cost to them.

“As our nation reopens and people return to work, it remains critical our children continue to receive safe, healthy, and nutritious food,” said U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue. “During the COVID-19 pandemic, USDA has provided an unprecedented amount of flexibilities to help schools feed kids through the school meal programs, and today, we are also extending summer meal program flexibilities for as long as we can, legally and financially.”

While the Summer Meals program has been extended, BCS families are urged to fill out a free/reduced meal program application for this school year (2020-21). This will ensure quick access to any additional state or federal programs. Also, after December 31, we expect to revert back to a traditional meals model which will mean students will need to pay for lunch just like a normal school day.

A schedule of meal times and locations has been posted to nutrition.buncombeschools.org. You can also find menus, our wellness policy, and fill out a free/reduced meals program application.

*School Nutrition Director Lisa Payne was recently awarded the North Carolina Department of Agriculture & Consumer Services (NCDA&CS) Best Practice Award. The award recognizes Ms. Payne’s successful efforts to partner with Franklin-based Brasstown Beef as a fresh, local meat supplier for Buncombe County Schools. Watch the surprise announcement here.