Lower Moreland has offered free meals to all students since last spring, which has left many students wondering: how?
Mr. McGuinn, the district’s business manager, described how LMTSD is able to provide free meals, saying, “Lower Moreland Township School District receives federal reimbursement for all meals served, and that is matched against the costs to serve the meals the District incurs.”
Since March 11, 2020, the United States Department of Agriculture has issued numerous waivers to ensure that children have access to free meals during the Covid-19 pandemic. Because of the waivers, free meals are available from local schools and community organizations for children 18 years and younger, regardless of household income.
Mr. Rehr, the Assistant Principal for Grades 10 and 12, told me about LMTSD’s efforts to help provide lunches to families struggling due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Mr. Rehr said, “Not long after the closure of the school district, when we realized that we were going to be closed down for an extended period, it became abundantly clear that there were families who needed the free and reduced lunch. In order to meet that demand, we started providing packaged meals, including breakfast and lunch. In these meals, there would be enough food to last the families for weekends.”
The district continued to provide meals over the summer. Once the 2020-2021 school year began, in-person students could get free meals while in school, and virtual students could pick up complimentary breakfast and lunches on Tuesdays and Fridays each week. Ms. Logan Myers, the Food Services Director, is in charge of the meal pickups for the virtual students. Her team has been doing an extraordinary job delivering and providing meals to virtual students who need them. Ms. Myers said, “Families can pick up breakfast and lunch bags for anyone 18 years and younger, including breakfast and lunch for the regular school days, weekends, and even holidays.”
The Lower Moreland Township School District is operating under the Pennsylvania Department of Education guidance, ensuring that all children, whether they are in-person or virtual, have access to healthy meals. The Department of Agriculture announced on March 9, 2021 that it would extend the waivers to continue to offer free meals to all American schoolchildren over the summer and until September 30, 2021.
Lunch is being served differently this year compared to previous years. Instead of everyone eating in the cafeteria, students are assigned to eat in either the cafeteria or auditorium and must sit in assigned seats. “The food options differ from day to day, but chicken and fries are available every day, and the food is served in containers. The teachers make sure that the students are separated and apart from one another,” said freshman Alan Neiman.
With the USDA’s extension of the school feeding program waivers, LMTSD will continue to provide free meals to students for the remainder of the school year and during the summer.