USDA extends free school meal program till December

All Dothan City School students will receive free meals through the end of the 2020 calendar year
Kids across the U.S. will continue to receive free meals through the end of December
Kids across the U.S. will continue to receive free meals through the end of December(Yzabelah Roberts)
Published: Sep. 2, 2020 at 1:22 PM CDT
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DOTHAN, Ala. (PR) – U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue announced the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) will extend several flexibilities through as late as December 31, 2020. The flexibilities allow summer meal program operators to continue serving free meals to all children into the fall months. 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. Lunch 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


USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) is extending a suite of nationwide waivers for the Summer Food Service Program (SFSP) and Seamless Summer Option (SSO) through the end of 2020, or until available funding runs out. This includes:

  • Allowing SFSP and SSO meals to be served in all areas and at no cost;
  • Permitting meals to be served outside of the typically-required group settings and meal times;
  • Waiving meal pattern requirements as necessary; and
  • Allowing parents and guardians to pick-up meals for their children.

Collectively, these flexibilities ensure meal options for children continue to be available so children can access meals under all circumstances. USDA is taking this unprecedented action to respond to the needs of its stakeholders, who have shared concerns about continuing to reach those in need without enlisting the help of traditional summer sites located throughout communities across the US. While there have been some well-meaning people asking USDA to fund this through the entire 2020-2021 school year, we are obligated to not spend more than is appropriated by Congress.

Importantly, the summer meal program waiver extensions announced today are based on current data estimations. Over the past six months, partners across the country have stood up nearly 80,000 sites, handing out meals at a higher reimbursement rate than the traditional school year program. USDA has continuously recalculated remaining appropriated funds to determine how far we may be able to provide waivers into the future, as Congress did not authorize enough funding for the entire 2020-2021 school year. Reporting activities are delayed due to States responding to the pandemic; however based upon the April data we currently have available, FNS projects that it could offer this extension, contingent on funding, for the remaining months of 2020. USDA will continue to actively monitor this rapidly evolving situation and continue to keep Congress informed of our current abilities and limitations.

Since the start of the public health emergency, FNS has been maximizing existing program services and flexibilities to ensure those in need have access to food through our 15 federal nutrition assistance programs. To date, USDA has provided more than 3,000 flexibilities across these programs. USDA has also leveraged new and innovative approaches to feeding kids, including a public-private partnershipthat provided nearly 40 million meals directly to the doorsteps of low-income rural children. For more information on FNS’ response to COVID-19, visit

Dothan City Schools Child Nutrition Program will offer curbside meals by pre-order only for all enrolled remote/virtual students.
Dothan City Schools Child Nutrition Program will offer curbside meals by pre-order only for all enrolled remote/virtual students.(Source: Dothan City Schools)

Dothan City Schools Remote/Virtual Learner Curbside Meal Pick Up

Begins Tuesday, September 8 | Pick Up Time: 10:00 – 10:30 AM


  • Carver School (1001 Webb Road)
  • Dothan Preparatory Academy (1236 S. Oates Street)
  • Girard Primary School (522 Girard Avenue)
  • Heard Elementary School (201 Daniel Circle)
  • Hidden Lake Elementary School (1475 Prevatt Road)
  • Highlands Elementary School (1400 S. Brannon Stand Road)
  • Kelly Springs Elementary School (1124 Kelly Springs Road)
  • Morris Slingluff Elementary School (4130 Westgate Parkway)
  • Dothan High School (3209 Reeves Street)

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