USDA extends free meals for students through Summer 2021

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Published: Mar. 16, 2021 at 4:04 PM CDT
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SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (Dakota News Now) - Children ages 18 and under will continue to receive free meals this summer when school is out.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture is extending the Summer Food Service Program, which has been providing students with free meals throughout this school year and will now provide meals for many into the summer months.

The Trump administration began the free meals through the SFSP in 2020, and now the Biden administration is extending the program until September 30th.

According to the USDA, 12 million children live in households where they don’t have enough to eat and the Summer Food Service Program is hoping to minimize that number amid the ongoing pandemic.

“I think it will just help families, again who have struggled through some of this being able to you know ‘we have a little bit of reprieve, we’ll be able to have the free meals and take care of it that way,’” said Sioux falls School District Child Nutrition Director Gay Anderson.

Anderson says they’re still in the planning stages for the summer, but are looking to have about 15 sites across the city to help feed those ages 18 and under.

“Once we have all of our sights established that will be opened, we will have set times that families can come and eat or grab the food. Actually, the waivers were extended that you can also take the food away, so it’s not congregating feeding this time it’s considered non-congregate feeding, and they can actually take the food home with them,” Anderson said.

However, before the summer even starts, the program is currently in use in schools.

“I think families are satisfied that ‘we don’t have to pay for those meals,’ but I think what we need to do and I’m really glad for this opportunity is remind parents that your kids can eat for free with us. They can have free breakfast and free lunch,” Anderson added.

The meals will also be available to persons over age 18 with mental or physical disabilities.

The program is set to expire in September, but the district would like to see it continue.

“It’s a dream. It would be a wonderful reality for so many things,” said Anderson.

Other school districts, such as West Central and Tea, have not yet decided whether they will participate in the program.

The Sioux Falls School District is hoping to release more information in April on how their program will work this upcoming summer.

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