Extended school food waivers benefit students at all area schools

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Graphic by Owensboro Times

This week the U.S. Department of Agriculture agreed to extend school food waivers through the end of 2020. The waivers eliminate restrictive requirements and increase flexibility for schools and other organizations that serve free meals to all children 18 and under. 

Daviess County Public Schools Director of Nutrition Lisa Sims said the extension will be a blessing for not only DCPS students, but for all children across the county. 

“Anyone 18 and under, we can feed them,” Sims said. “We want to continue helping our community.” 

Jared Revlett, public information officer for Owensboro Public Schools, said the USDA’s extension of school food waivers will relieve a major burden put upon food service workers and OPS families who need those meals. 

Though OPS already provides free meals to all its students, the process of receiving meals had become arduous for families this year. Each family had to fill out paperwork explaining how many kids would be receiving meals, how many meals would be picked up per week, and from which school those meals would be picked up. 

“Now you don’t have to enter your lunch number and go to the school to pick up food,” Revlett said. “It will look more like our Summer Feeding program. Once we can go out and start delivering meals, we’ll be able to reach more of those students without having to jump through so many hoops.” 

Revlett said OPS is still waiting on their waiver to be approved through the Kentucky Department of Education but said it shouldn’t take too long. 

Owensboro Catholic Schools also applied for the extended waiver. Sonya Evans, director of school food service for the Diocese of Owensboro said they filed the waiver on Tuesday and were supposed to hear back in 48 hours. However, they hadn’t heard anything as of Thursday afternoon. 

“We are still waiting for approval for all our Catholic schools in the Diocese,” she said. 

DCPS required all parents picking up meals to have a QR code scanned as they came through the Curbside Meal Service line, but this week those codes were no longer needed. 

“The scanner — that was horrible and burdensome to our sites,” Sims said. “Today we were tossing out ideas on how to send food home to kids, possibly through backpacks or an evening pickup service. We’re just trying to look at different ways we can do that.” 

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