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CCSD gets waiver to resume distributing free meals to all students

Updated September 9, 2020 - 6:38 pm

The Clark County School District will again offer free meals to all children from ages 2 to 18 after receiving a long-sought waiver from the U.S. Department of Agriculture to extend the program through December 2020.

During the spring quarter of school closures and over the summer, CCSD operated under its summer meal program, offering free meals to all children without requiring parents to show their students’ identification information upon pickup.

But as of the beginning of the school year on Aug. 24, the district had not received the waiver it sought to continue the program in this format from the Agriculture Department. The department indicated that schools were expected to shift to their regular school year meal programs as they reopened, which come with eligibility requirements.

Since the first day of school, parents have had to provide identification information at the meal sites, and only students eligible for free and reduced-price lunch, or those attending an eligible school, have received free lunches. (CCSD has offered free breakfast to all students since the beginning of 2020.)

The department announced on Aug. 31 that it would extend the waiver after all, and CCSD on Wednesday announced it would implement the waiver as planned.

Meals are available at over 300 school sites via drive-thru, and parents can pick up meals for their children without the children present. Pickup times vary, with elementary schools serving meals from 7 to 10 a.m., middle schools from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. and high schools from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Breakfast and lunch can be picked up at the same time.

Approximately 201,000 meals were served during the first week of school, according to the district. Around two-thirds of all CCSD students — just over 309,000 as of last week — are eligible for free or reduced-price meals.

The Nevada Division of Welfare and Supportive Services also announced this week that children who are eligible for free or reduced-priced meals will receive a one-time refund for any school lunches that were missed this spring.

The money comes from the Pandemic Electronic Benefits Transfer program and will be made available to families either through their existing EBT cards or on new cards set to be mailed out. Families do not need to apply for this program.

Contact Aleksandra Appleton at 702-383-0218 or aappleton@reviewjournal.com. Follow @aleksappleton on Twitter.

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