Schools offering free summer lunch options following new USDA waiver extensions

Miami Valley News

MIAMISBURG, Ohio (WDTN) – Some pandemic- related U.S. Department of Agriculture funding changes could benefit K-12 families this summer. 

Under the summer meal programs outlined by the USDA, students across the country can “continue to receive nutritious meals this summer when schools are out of session,” and some districts in the Miami Valley said they’re already working to make that happen. 

“What we’re looking at is opening up four of our schools — three of the [elementary schools] and then the high school to provide free breakfast and lunch to our students that were enrolled in Beavercreek schools during this school year,” said Joshua Ashley, student nutrition supervisor for the district.

He said after conducting a survey with families in the district, it became clear the meals would help ease financial challenges that were not as prevalent in the district before the onset of COVID-19.

“Pre-pandemic, Beavercreek never qualified to offer summer meals like we have been this school year,” he said. “And so now, with the extension, we have started gathering information on what the needs are of our community and how we best meet those needs.”

Superintendent of Miamisburg City Schools, Dr. Laura Blessing, said her district has been on a similar mission.

“Over the summer we will partner with some community groups so students who need free meals in the summer — there will be different community organizations that will be continuing to offer that,” she said.

Professionals from both districts said under the extension of various waivers provided by the USDA, this summer’s breakfasts and lunches will include items that are both popular among students and that fit within USDA health guidelines. But each district is still looking into the best ways to get those meals to families.

“We’re going to need probably three at least — three to four staff members per building and then we’ve already coordinated with our vendors to give them a heads up that we would be doing this because this is abnormal for them,” Ashely explained.

While valued cafeteria staff in the Miamisburg district are planning to utilize outside organizations to help get food to students during summer break, both districts are working on a similar timeline to get concrete details to families regarding pick up and delivery times.

“I believe probably in late to middle May we will start getting those organizations and information to our students and families so they know where those meal options are this summer,” Blessing explained.

Miamisburg and the Beavercreek are not the only districts offering free meal programs over the summer. Centerville Schools said they are offering meals to summer school students, and Dayton Public Schools said they will continue offering food to all of their students during the summer as they have in previous years. 

The best way to learn more about free summer lunch programs and community food resources is to reach out to staff your child’s school.

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