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CCSD seeks federal waiver to provide free meals at drive-thru sites

Updated August 10, 2020 - 1:17 pm

The Clark County School District is seeking a waiver from the federal government that would allow it to continue offering free meals to children at drive-thru locations — a model it has been using since March.

CCSD expects to hear back from the U.S. Department of Agriculture by late this week or early next week, the district’s food services director, David Wines, said in a Monday call with reporters.

If the waiver is granted, it would allow younger children who aren’t yet in school — ages 2 to 5 — to receive meals, in addition to CCSD students. And meals would be free, regardless of income.

If the waiver isn’t approved, CCSD will have to open school cafeterias and have parents or students come inside to pick up a bagged breakfast and lunch. And as in a normal school year, parents would have to pay for meals unless their child qualified for free or reduced-price school lunches.

CCSD will continue to provide meals through Aug. 21 at the 46 food distribution sites currently in operation, Wines told reporters. The school district has served more than 5 million meals since schools were ordered to close in mid-March because of the coronavirus pandemic.

For the upcoming school year, which begins Aug. 24 with fully remote instruction, meals will be distributed at more than 300 sites districtwide, Wines said. A complete list of meal sites will be available at ccsd.nutrislice.com.

CCSD dietitian Lory Hayon said meals will be offered Mondays through Fridays, excluding school holidays. Details regarding transportation to school cafeterias if required haven’t been finalized, she said.

Pickup times will be staggered in order to better serve students, she said. Meals will be served from 7-10 a.m. at elementary schools, 10 a.m.-1 p.m. at middle schools and 11 a.m.-2 p.m. at high schools.

Parents and guardians have the flexibility to pick up meals for all of the children in their household at one site, Hayon said. If cafeterias are used as distribution sites, everyone who enters will be required to wear a face covering and there will be signage and floor markings to ensure social distancing.

In late June, the USDA issued a handful of waivers to school districts nationwide. They took effect July 1 and continue through June 30, 2021.

Changes in the waivers included allowing parents and guardians to pick up meals for their children, allowing for noncongregate feeding — meaning meals can be picked up and taken home instead of being eaten on site — and providing flexibility with meal times and settings.

Contact Julie Wootton-Greener at jgreener@reviewjournal.com or 702-387-2921. Follow @julieswootton on Twitter.

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