VALLEY VIEW, Ark- The Valley View School District just received a USDA waiver for their free and reduced lunch program.
This will allow for all students in the district, regardless of income, to receive free meals through the end of the year.
“We heard about it through the child nutrition unit and they let us know,” says Valley View Superintendent Bryan Russell. “We went through the process of filling out the wavier. We made certain before putting it out to our patrons that we got it in writing that we actually were going to receive it.”
Russell says the program is an extension from the USDA, which provided students free daily meals this past summer.
This will allow for all students, learning onsite or virtual to receive breakfast and lunch five days a week at no cost.
Previously the district wouldn’t meet the requirements to qualify for the program.
But that changed due to the pandemic.
“We really have seen that need grow… 25% to 30%, somewhere in there…I would say closer to 30 [percent] this yea,” he says. “That’s a low percentage in regard to places around us. There are districts that are able to feed students free every day. So, for them, it’s not a big thing, but for us, it’s a huge deal for us. It’s overwhelming.”
On days when school is not in session, students will still be able to receive the meals.
Russell says it makes him happy seeing students go through the food line and not have to worry about payment.
Since the program is an extension, it will end on December 31st.
Russell says they have not received word on if it will be extended.
He says funds for meals will rollover to next semester.
“It’s actually allowing parents too, who would be paying would be paying at this time to go ahead on their account,” says Russell. “It’ll give them some relief later on down in the school year.”
Another area district, the Highland School District, also received the wavier.
Parents should be able to see those funds roll over soon if they haven’t already.
Russell is hoping all students virtual and in-person take advantage of this opportunity.