Schools to offer free meals through December

Parents of children attending DeSoto County School District (DCS) schools have one less thing to worry about each morning their youngster heads off to class: lunch money.  

DCS nutrition officials have sent a communication to parents announcing that all district students will be able to eat for free through the end of this year.  

“Last Monday (Aug. 31), U.S. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue announced that they would be extending the waivers that they have put out since March, when the pandemic started,” said Alex Hallmark, DCS Director of Child Nutrition. “Back in March when the pandemic started, we were to switch and were able to feed for free. USDA is allowing us to operate in our Summer Feeding Program until the end of December. In doing so, we are able to feed all of our students for free.”  

Through the summer, a Summer Feeding Program provided free food at certain school locations for youngsters to pick up drive-through meals to meet nutrition needs. 

Eligible parents can submit applications for their child to be part of a federal program providing free or reduced-priced meals during the school year, based on income eligibility.  

DCS offers lunch meals at its attendance centers and also offers breakfast meals at 24 of 39 school sites in the district.  

Hallmark did caution parents to continue applying for free or reduced meals, even if their child is virtually learning from home, 

“Assuming this ends in December, everybody will go back to their eligibility status when we return after Christmas,” said Hallmark. “Every year you have to submit a new application. Now that this has happened, we’re going to have a lot of people temporarily free right now that have not submitted applications who will roll off and not realize that their child is now a full pay meal. This is temporary now through December and eligibility status will pick back up in January.”  

For any further questions, contact Alex Hallmark, DCS Director of Child Nutrition, at alex.hallmark@dcsms.org.

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