USDA extends free meal program for students through end of 2020 amid coronavirus

As students head back to school in person or remotely, the U.S. Department of Agriculture is extending its summer free meal program through the end of the year.

The program allows families to pick up free meals from any convenient school, even if the child is not enrolled there. The USDA launched the program in March when the COVID-19 pandemic began spreading widely in the U.S.

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Initially, the program was set to end in August and require families to pay for meals and pick them up from their child’s school, the Washington Post reported.

“We appreciate the incredible efforts by our school foodservice professionals year in and year out, but this year we have an unprecedented situation,” U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue said in a statement. “This extension of summer program authority will employ summer program sponsors to ensure meals are reaching all children – whether they are learning in the classroom or virtually – so they are fed and ready to learn, even in new and ever-changing learning environments.”

The extension will allow meals to be served in all areas at no cost outside of traditional settings and meal times. Parents and guardians will also be able to pick up food without their children present, according to a USDA news release.

The program’s extension will last until Dec. 31 or until funding runs out. Find pick up sites for meals at the USDA’s website.


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