Northwest Iowa — There’s some good news if you are the parent or guardian of one or more school-aged children attending a number of schools in the area — and your financial situation has been impacted by COVID-19 measures.
The USDA is providing some money to schools that apply — and this money will go to pay for school lunches. That means that for a limited time — all school lunches and breakfasts will be free in districts that have been accepted into the program. The program is underway in some districts and will start soon in some others.
Central Lyon Superintendent Brent Jorth tells us more.
(as said:) “We’ll start on Thursday, October 1st. As everybody knows, families and our nation’s been impacted due to COVID and so there’s additional CARES act dollars that is been allocated to the USDA to help provide free lunches and free breakfast to students through the end of this calendar year.”
He says Central Lyon will start participating in a couple of weeks.
(as said:) “Central Lyon is going to start participating October first and we’re going to be able to provide (kind of) the first time through the lunch line for both breakfast and lunch free of cost to all students.”
Jorth tells us there is a possibility that the funds for the program could run out at the federal level before January first. He says if that happens, the district will have to revert back to having parents pay for meals (that is, unless they normally qualify for free and reduced-price meals.) He says there are a couple more caveats.
(as said:) “The only cost to students or… families really… will be if they pick up an extra milk or want a second meal or another à la carte item that we might offer. So we still want to remind families to check their account balances because if their son or daughter, you know… wants extra chocolate milk, or maybe a second slice of pizza that’s going to still come out of their own family account. So the program that the USDA… the summer food program… rules that will be applied is just for that first time through the lunch line or the first time through the breakfast line in the morning.”
He tells us the reason they’re using summer program guidelines, which specify free meals.
(as said:) “Due to COVID-19 and the reality is that everybody faced across the country due to schools closing all across the country in the spring, they have instituted this summer food program and those rules to anybody any school district that wants to participate.”
According to Jorth, Central Lyon families may not be aware of the free summer lunch program as historically, Central Lyon has not had enough low-income families to be able to participate in the free summer lunch program, and they’ve sent families to other schools in the area that provide free meals instead.
According to Sheldon Superintendent Cory Myer, the program is already underway at Sheldon Community Schools, and will also continue until the end of 2020.