For the second school year in a row, every Charleston County School District (CCSD) student will be able to eat breakfast and lunch at school for free. Meals will be served at no cost to all students, whether or not the school they attend is part of the Community Eligibility Program.
Last week, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) announced a set of nationwide waivers that will allow school meal programs and childcare institutions across the country to serve healthy meals for the 2021- 2022 school year.
Since the current school year started on September 8, 2020, CCSD says their Nutrition Services Department has served 3 million lunches and 1.5 million breakfast meals.
The USDA offers a targeted set of flexibilities through June 30, 2022, for school meal programs and childcare institutions across the country. Schools nationwide will be allowed to serve meals through the National School Lunch Program Seamless Summer Option (SSO), which is typically only available during the summer months. This option allows schools to serve free meals to all children.
Although the waivers do not extend the option to operate the Summer Food Service Program (SFSP) during the regular school year, school districts that choose this option will receive higher-than-normal meal reimbursements for every meal they serve. This option maintains the nutrition standards of the standard school meal programs – including a strong emphasis on providing fruits and vegetables, fluid milk, whole grains, and moderate calorie levels while allowing schools to serve free meals to all children. School districts that choose this option can manage increased costs associated with pandemic-related operational and supply chain challenges, too.
The USDA will continue to offer targeted meal pattern flexibility and technical assistance as needed. In addition, schools and child and adult care institutions can continue providing breakfasts, lunches, and after-school snacks in non-group settings at flexible meal times. Parents or guardians can also pick up meals for their children when programs are not operating under a regular schedule while maintaining social distancing consistent with federal recommendations.
For a complete list of the waiver actions announced last week, visit FNS’s COVID Response page at https://www.fns.usda.gov/coronavirus.
For more information about the continuation of free school meals in CCSD, contact the Division of Strategy and Communications at (843) 937-6303.
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