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USDA Extends Free Meals for Kids Through 2020-2021 School Year


USDA Extends Free Meals for Kids Through 2020-2021 School Year

All Dothan City School students will receive free meals through the end of the 2020-2021 school year.


UPDATE – The U.S. Department of Agriculture is extending its program to allow free school meals for all children throughout the entire 2020-2021 school year. There will be no charge for a complete meal for students (those wishing to bring their meal from home will be charged for milk).

DOTHAN, Ala. –  U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue announced the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) will extend several flexibilities. The flexibilities allow summer meal program operators to continue serving free meals to all children. This unprecedented move will help ensure – no matter what the situation is on-the-ground – children have access to nutritious food as the country recovers from the COVID-19 pandemic. USDA has been and continues to be committed to using the Congressionally appropriated funding that has been made available.

“As our nation reopens and people return to work, it remains critical our children continue to receive safe, healthy, and nutritious food. During the COVID-19 pandemic, USDA has provided an unprecedented amount of flexibilities to help schools feed kids through the school meal programs, and today, we are also extending summer meal program flexibilities for as long as we can, legally and financially,” said Secretary Perdue. “We appreciate the incredible efforts by our school foodservice professionals year in and year out, but this year we have an unprecedented situation. 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.”

“School Nutrition Association greatly appreciates USDA addressing the critical challenges shared by our members serving students on the frontlines these first weeks of school.

These waivers will allow school nutrition professionals to focus on nourishing hungry children for success, rather than scrambling to process paperwork and verify eligibility in the midst of a pandemic." said School Nutrition Association (SNA) President Reggie Ross, SNS. "We look forward to continuing our dialogue with USDA to ensure school meal programs are equipped to meet the future needs of America’s students.”

“Today’s announcement brings a huge relief to our school meal program,” said Tonya Grier, R.D., MPH, Director of Child Nutrition for Dothan City Schools. “Many of our families who might not qualify for free meals are still going through a tough time financially. Now those families will have one less thing to worry about as they adjust to evolving in-person and remote learning scenarios. This action by USDA eliminates the burdensome, time-consuming process of verifying students’ meal eligibility status at the time of meal service. With these waivers, we’ll be able to speed up meal distribution for the safety of staff and students and ensure no student is denied access to healthy meals”

Dothan City Schools will still need lunch applications from families. Applications for the 2020-21 school year can be found on the Dothan City Schools Child Nutrition Page at or at a student’s base school. Additionally, Dothan City Schools Child Nutrition Program will offer curbside meals by pre-order only for all enrolled remote/virtual students. Pickup will include five (5) complete breakfasts and five (5) lunch meals per student. Parents are asked to fill out an order form for EACH virtually enrolled student in their household. Pickup will be on Tuesdays from 10:00 – 10:30 AM from a designated pick up location. Additional information and the pre-order form can be found at