Harrison County School District offering free school meals to all children

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Starting September 9, 2020, Harrison County School District schools will be offering universal free meals to all children ages 18 and under, whether they are learning at school or virtually.

On Tuesday night, the Harrison County School Board approved the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s extension of the Summer Food Service Program through the fall semester. The program will allow parents/guardians to pick up breakfast and lunch packages from any HCSD school campus, at no cost, regardless of family income or enrollment in the district. There is no application or requirements to participate.

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In addition to regular meal service for traditional students, all school sites in HCSD will be open daily from 10:00-11:00 am for free meal pickups. HCSD parents/guardians whose children are enrolled virtually do not need to have children present in the vehicle. Households with multiple virtual learners may continue to pick up all student meals at one location. For parents/guardians whose children are not enrolled in HCSD, children must be present in the vehicle during meal pickups.

In the past, USDA has offered free meals during the summer months when school was not in session. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, USDA launched the free grab-and-go meals program in March and has now extended it in HCSD from September 9 through December 31, 2020, or until funds run out.

“Following the school shut down in late March, HCSD immediately rolled out the Summer Food Service Program due to our experience with this USDA program.  Since then, about 300,000 free summer meals were served and a hybrid school reopening model was implemented in August utilizing an array of available USDA waivers to provide meals in classrooms and to virtual learning students,” said HCSD Child Nutrition Director Brad Barlow.

“We are pleased to once again serve free summer meals, but now, during the fall semester. We hope by removing the application process for free or reduced-price meals, more households will trust our dedicated team of child nutrition professionals to serve their children hot and delicious meals.” Click here to learn more about the updated HCSD food service health and safety procedures: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dQWfBSC5IjI.

Families with questions regarding the program may call the HCSD Child Nutrition Department during regular business hours at (228) 539-6516. For additional information regarding the USDA program: https://www.usda.gov/media/press-releases/2020/08/31/usda-extends-freemeals-kids-through-december-31-2020.

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