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CCS to offer free meals for all students

By JOYANNA LOVE/ Managing Editor

Chilton County Schools will be offering free meals to students as part of a USDA waiver program when school starts on Sept. 8.

The waiver program is an extension of the summer meals reimbursement program and will be available through Dec. 31.

“All meals are free to persons 18 years or younger, so if you have a child in a school you are able to go and get those free meals — breakfast, lunch and a snack,” Tasha Hayes, child nutrition director, said.

Those students who have chosen the virtual learning option for this coming school year will be able to get the meals through grab and go pickup. Hayes said food can also be picked up for children who are not yet old enough to attend school.

“I’m so excited about this,” Hayes said. “I just think it is such a great … waiver that the USDA has done to ensure that all kids have the opportunity to eat and to be able to eat for free takes the burden off of parents.”

CCS Child Nutrition Program will receive reimbursement of $2.37 for each breakfast and $4.15 for each lunch from the USDA.

These funds will go into the CNP budget to keep the program self-sustaining by paying for staff, equipment, etc.

Meals will continue to follow the nutritional requirements, but Hayes said she tries hard to make the meals appealing to students.

In a press release, the USDA listed the pandemic as a reason for wanting to offer the waiver this school year.

If funding is available, the program may be continued in January, but this is uncertain at this time. School systems that have already started the school year had seen a decrease in lunch program participation, according to USDA information.

Chilton County Schools is encouraging those who qualify to go ahead and fill out the free and reduced lunch program paperwork in case the USDA waiver is not continued.