Over the years, certain students have always had the opportunity to apply for free lunches at school. To apply, your household income must be at or below listed guidelines or if your family receives food stamps, Temporary Assistance to Needy Families, or Food Distribution Program on Indian Reservations. However, this year lunch is free to all students whether or not they apply.
In the past, there have been several options served every day. Usually students can choose from pizza or chicken sandwiches for free. However, this year there were more “gourmet” options like Mexican and Italian that were available for purchase.
Now all options are free no matter what students choose.
The reason behind this is because the USDA and the federal government decided that all meals would be free for public schools this year due to the Covid issues. The federal government provides the funding for it.
“The free meals will last thru either June 30th or the last day of the district’s school year which would be June 15th for us here,” Russ Knott from the Oregon Trail School District nutrition services said.
Many students wonder who chooses what is being served for lunch. A rotating menu with multiple options has helped meet all students’ appetites.
“This year especially is being driven greatly by supply availability as well as menus and recipes we receive from the USDA. Most of what we serve though is based on student acceptance of items offered,” Knott said.
With this change, the staff has had to prepare to serve more kids than usual.
“There has definitely been a rise in the amount of students getting school lunch. We always try making the right amount of food based off of previous days, hoping that there is not much waste. Although if there are leftovers, we try giving it away to use as much of it as we can,” lunch staff Ashley Yoder said.
Having this opportunity for free lunch has been helpful to many families. Most importantly, it ensures students are getting the nutrition they need to learn.