The BCPS Department of School Nutrition now has the flexibility from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) to operate their food service department under the Summer Feeding Supplement Program (SFSP) policies.
According to District School Nutrition Director Todd Crumbacker, this means that all children under the age of 19 will receive school meals for free.
Currently, School Nutrition Services and the district Transportation Department are collaborating on meal distribution at student bus stops each school day. There are specific times allocated for individuals to pick up the daily meals at their respective school bus stop.
This has been the ‘norm’ since COVID-19 caused many schools to switch to remote learning rather than in-person learning.
Crumbacker said when in-person learning resumes, meals will still be free for all children 19 and under.
“This is a nationwide flexibility that will benefit all public school districts across the country,” he explained. “Families will request meal service by completing a google form that is on the BCPS Reopening of Schools website. Families can choose between two options for meal service: 1. Bus Stop Meal Delivery or 2. Curbside Pick-up. By completing the form it communicates to our kitchens exactly how many meals we need to prepare each day.”
If families are currently signed-up for Bus Stop Meal Delivery there is no reason for them to sign-up again; meals will continue to be delivered to those families already signed-up.
Crumbacker said if a family that is already on the delivery list has more kids in the household then what they have been delivering to, then the family will simply communicate to the bus driver how many kids are in the home and the district will provide that number of meals.
“The google forms will be for those families that have not signed up for these meal services,” he said.
Crumbacker does not anticipate a need to hire more food service employees to feed 13,000 students in grades Pre-Kindergarten through 12.
“As a collective group, our team typically serves approximately 7,200 lunch meals per day and approximately 3,800 breakfast meals per day. Our team can produce high volumes of meals with the current staffing that we have.”
There is a specially designed menu that will be used while operating under the Summer Feeding Supplement Program (SFSP).
Crumbacker said for each meal served, the Department of School Nutrition will receive federal reimbursement from the USDA.
“Meal counts are submitted at the end of each month for reimbursement,” he noted. “However, our department must adhere to meal pattern requirements in order to receive reimbursement. This means that our serving sizes, as well as food groups offered for each meal, must be in compliance with the USDA regulations.”
Crumbacker said the free meals will be offered through the end of the current calendar year or when government funds are depleted.
“Our department has the flexibility to function under SFSP policies until December 31, 2020 or until government funding runs out,” he said. “We will be able to function under SFSP policies regardless of the learning methods offered; therefore, as students transition back to in-person learning we will still be able to offer free meals to all students.”
There are no income eligibility restrictions applied to the free student meals.
“All children under the age of 19, whether they are currently enrolled in BCPS or not, are eligible to receive free meals,” Crumbacker said. There is no application process. We simply ask that parents request this service via the google form - https://forms.gle/C5woDFhPVmu6MZ9S6
Here is a link to the pandemic menu: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1te89PLWa8Td8dRcAwQ9YuEwObAIegvNCAchyRUHs15s/edit
Crumbacker praised the national initiative and encouraged students to participate.
Due to COVID-19 and the current reality we are all experiencing, many of our families have been faced with more challenging circumstances than normal,” he said. “These unprecedented times call for unprecedented measures. Thank you to the United States Department of Agriculture for allowing our food service department to function under the policies of the Summer Feeding Supplement Program (SFSP). Because of this decision, our team will be able to feed more children in our Bullitt County community. Our kitchen staffs’ have a love for children and a deep desire to want to feed them. Operating under the SFSP policies will allow our department to do just that!”