Conroe ISD to extend free lunches to all students

With the approval of the United States Department of Agriculture, Conroe ISD will be offering free breakfast and lunch meals to all students in the district starting Thursday.

In response to the increased need for free meals due to the economic impact of COVID-19, the USDA allowed districts to apply for a waiver to continue the free meal program for all students and members of the community. Typically, this program is only offered in the summer months. The extension will last through Dec. 31 or until funding runs out.

“This unprecedented move will help ensure — no matter what the situation is on-the-ground — children have access to nutritious food as the country recovers from the COVID-19 pandemic,” according to a release from the federal office. “USDA has been and continues to be committed to using the Congressionally appropriated funding that has been made available.”

The district applied for the waiver right after the USDA announced the opportunity and received approval this week. The program is available to youth 18 years old and younger, they do not have to be students of the district.

Robyn Hughes, Director of Child Nutrition for CISD, estimates that the district will be serving between 35,000 and 40,000 students through this program. Currently, the district gives free meals to around 16,000 of the 65,000 students in the district. Since March, when schools closed, the district has given away around one million free meals to students.

“Over the past six months, partners across the country have stood up nearly 80,000 sites, handing out meals at a higher reimbursement rate than the traditional school year program,” according to the USDA release. “USDA has continuously recalculated remaining appropriated funds to determine how far we may be able to provide waivers into the future, as Congress did not authorize enough funding for the entire 2020-2021 school year.”

The only requirement for the program is that the meals are meant for youth 18 years old and younger. Parents can pick up the meals but will need to bring some form of identification for their child, like their student ID or birth certificate. Pick up for meals will be Tuesdays and Thursdays from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. at the seven Junior High campuses in the district.

Source Article