The Franklin Special School District offers free breakfast and lunch to ALL 18 children based on new federal guidelines announced Monday, August 31, by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. By temporarily discontinuing federal eligibility guidelines that only allowed qualified low-income students to receive free meals, the USDA has removed all barriers for children to receive much-needed food assistance through December, regardless of income.
“Unfortunately the COVID-19 pandemic has caused many families to fall into uncertain economic situations due to job loss, reduction of hours, or the necessity of an adult to stay at home to care for sick loved ones or to facilitate learning for virtual or remote learners,” said FSSD Director of Schools Dr. David Snowden. “Food instability is a very real issue for some of our families and we are grateful for the USDA’s foresight in understanding that the removal of income eligibility barriers for children to receive nutritious food is critical to a healthier and more productive student body and community.”
“Nutritious meals are essential to academic and behavioral success, growth, and development,” said Robbin Cross, FSSD Supervisor of Child Nutrition. “We are hopeful that all FSSD parents will take advantage of this opportunity by allowing their children to eat breakfast and lunch free in the school cafeteria or by participating in our meal Pick-Up Program for Remote and Virtual Learners.”
FSSD had offered breakfast and lunch meals at no cost to children following the closure of schools in March and throughout the summer. The meals were funded through the Summer Food Service Program, which ended when schools reopened in August. At that time, the traditional National School Lunch Program rules took effect, meaning that not all students could receive a no-cost lunch.
In addition to allowing districts to serve meals for free to any student, the waivers also allow districts to serve meals at any time, outside typical settings and to students not enrolled in that district. The FSSD will offer a once weekly pickup of 14 meals (seven breakfasts and seven lunches) for children ages 18 and under who are not In-Person Learners to take home for the week.
FSSD’s weekly Meal Pickup location for families with children at home will be on Thursdays from 7:00-7:30 AM OR 1:00-1:30 PM at Johnson Elementary School, 815 Glass Lane. Directional signs will allow people to drive through the bus lanes at the west end of the parking lot to pick up the weekly allotment of free food for each child.
“This is great news for FSSD families and ensures that children will not be without food during any COVID-19 class or school building closures,” Snowden said. “We know this is an important resource for families and it eases the uncertainty about student meals through at least the end of the calendar year.”
“As our nation reopens and people return to work, it remains critical our children continue to receive safe, healthy and nutritious food,” said USDA Secretary Sonny Perdue in a news release. “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.”