All Burbank Unified School District students are entitled to free meals for nutrition and lunch via an expansion and extension of the USDA Summer Food Service Program, as families and caregivers were notified in an automated call by the District on September 3.
The change in policy was announced by the USDA on Monday, August 31, to continue the Summer Food Service Program (SFSP) and Seamless Summer Option (SSO) through the end of 2020, or until available funding runs out. It affects all public school students, regardless of income, nationwide.
This change allows SFSP and SSO meals to be served in all areas and at no cost, permits meals to be served outside of typically-required group settings and meal times, waives meal pattern requirements as necessary and allows parents/guardians to pick up meals for their children.
“The USDA… will allow all school districts in the country to serve anyone in their community, who is 18 years of age and younger, free meals until December 31, 2020 or until the funding is depleted,” commented BUSD Director of Food Services Kathy Sessinghaus. “This is effective immediately. These meals do not need to be pre-ordered.”
No forms are required to be filled out, Sessinghaus clarified, or special actions taken to benefit from the food services program.
“A parent, guardian or another adult designee can pick up these five days’ worth of meals every Friday between 8:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.,” she added. “We prefer students pick up from their home school site so we can track the pickups.”
Usually, families have to fill out a Free and Reduced Lunch form to received free or reduced cost meals from the school, but the USDA is waiving this requirement through December 31. BUSD still encourages those who may qualify to fill out the form, as a great deal of school funding is based on the amount of Free and Reduced Lunch students a school or district may have.
About 35% of BUSD students qualify for the Free and Reduced Lunch program.
The expansion and extension of the national food services program comes during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic which has shuttered schools and jobs across the country. More information on the USDA policy change can be found online here.