USDA Announces Free School Meal Program
Community School Corporation of Eastern Hancock is pleased to announce that the USDA has approved a nationwide waiver due to the ongoing COVID19 pandemic that ALL students, regardless of socioeconomic status, can receive FREE meals at school. The Indiana Department of Education has given Indiana schools the approval to start, so Eastern Hancock will be starting this program effective 9/22/20. According to the USDA, this program is currently in effect “until June 30, 2021 or until funding runs out”.
What is considered a "free meal"?
Students can receive 1 FREE lunch AND 1 FREE breakfast per school day. Meals must meet the existing guidelines that USDA has put forth, and Eastern Hancock has followed, in order to be free. Ala carte items, including extra entrees, separate milk and snacks (middle and high school), will still be an additional charge.
How do I know if my child is purchasing a meal that qualifies as free?
At the elementary level, we have always ensured that students are choosing a complete meal that will be charged at the meal price. At the middle school and high school, students become more independent and it is more challenging to persuade students to make those healthier choices. So, we have traditionally allowed students to make their own choices. As a result of this change, and the fact that we know parents will want to ensure their student is getting the meal at no charge, we will be modifying our service. This will ensure that, in addition to elementary students, every middle school and high school student who purchases an entree will have the minimum choices necessary to be able to qualify as a free meal. For example, if a student chooses a sandwich entree or a salad entree, and that entree plus fruit/veg qualifies as a free meal, we will add the fruit/veg. Milk is optional.
Why must meals meet certain guidelines to be FREE?
The USDA wants to ensure that any meal that is funded by the government meets certain nutrition qualifications. A school cannot be reimbursed for parts of a meal. The meal must be sold as a unit.
Will my student still use their cafeteria account?
Yes, students will still use cafeteria accounts. Families can still deposit money into accounts for the purchase of ala carte foods including milk if they still choose to bring their lunch.
What if my child is a virtual student?
Eastern Hancock offers a weekly meal distribution for virtual students who pre-order each week.
Will free meals be a cost to Eastern Hancock?
This program is fully funded by the federal government and all costs to EH are fully reimbursed through federal funding. The federal programs that we are able to operate under, due to this waiver, also provide program simplification. This means that we can focus our team’s time and talents on preparing the nutritious and tasty meals our students enjoy.
Are school meals and the school meal environment safe?
Details about the precautions EH Food Services is taking can be found in the EH Re-Entry Plan document on the school website. We have made the necessary modifications to the way our food is served to ensure that our students are safe and continue to make the school cafeteria a positive experience for our students.
Do I still need to complete a Free/Reduced application if I think I qualify?
Textbook assistance will still require a student to qualify for Free/Reduced via the meal application in order to qualify for assistance.