Lynnville-Sully students Ryder Jansen, Brandon Schinkel, and Gunner Winegar, along with those seated behind them, enjoy the first free lunch available to all K-12 L-S students thanks to a federally funded program on Monday, Sept. 14.
A federally funded program by the U.S. Department of Agriculture is extending waivers to provide free breakfast and lunch meals to all L-S students, regardless of income, through Dec. 31, 2020 or until funding is no longer available.
The program responsible for the free meals is an extension of the summer meals program L-S applied and qualified when the school closed in mid-March due to the global pandemic. From Apr. 1- May 27, Lynnville-Sully served a total of 7,520 breakfast and 9,586 lunch meals free to any child age 1-18 in the school district.
The extension of free meals until the end of the year covers breakfast and lunch meals only. Items purchased outside of the meal such as a la carte items, semester milk for elementary students, and anything extra will come from the student’s lunch account.
Families are automatically enrolled to receive the free breakfast and lunch meals starting Sept. 14; no sign up is required. Students won’t see much change in terms of their lunchroom experience. This year, the school already eliminated the need for elementary students to carry their own lunch ticket. Students in grades 6-12 will continue to carry their ticket through the line, and will need them for any ala carte or extra purchases which are the financial responsibility of the student/family.
“The school district thanks USDA funding for the opportunity to offer free meals to all Lynnville-Sully students. Special thanks to Shelley Vander Molen and Cathy Fraker who researched and will implement the program for the school district,” said Shane Ehresman, L-S superintendent.
Mrs. Vander Molen, Lynnville-Sully’s food director, and Mrs. Fraker, L-S lunch secretary, were key assets when the meals were offered during the school shutdown, and their efforts earlier in 2020 laid the foundation for the program today.
“Luckily, a lot of the hard work was already done last spring. Once we learned of the extension and made the decision to offer the free meals, we were basically able to pick a start date,” said Mrs. Fraker.
It might be tricky for the first week if our numbers increase, but we just handle it and go with the flow,” said Mrs. Fraker. “It is easier now to use our Total K12 Access lunch program to ring everything up and run the reports. We had to make tally marks on a sheet of paper for each meal handed out for each day in April and May, so that made for a lot of extra paperwork. Lots of things still are the same including monthly reports, ordering, planning, preparing, and serving.”
On the food preparation side, Mrs. Vander Molen notes the menu is subject to change due to food not always available from the supplier. The USDA also allows for some flexibility for the lunch and breakfast meal pattern. “My staff and I will continue to work hard to serve the great food that is known to be served at Lynnville-Sully,” said Mrs. Vander Molen. “I would like to see everyone encouraging the kiddos to come eat breakfast and lunch here at school. This is a great opportunity for our families!”
When the federally-funded program is no longer available and meals will be charged again, the school district will send notification to parents via email and text.