New Hampshire schools can continue offering meals to all young people under 18 free of charge for the rest of the calendar year.
Schools have had more flexiblity to provide meals and receive reimbursement from the federal government since the USDA issued waivers during remote learning last spring.
The modifications made meals available for free to all families and allowed schools to distribute the meals through pick-up and delivery options at community sites. The program was set to expire later this month, but the USDA announced Monday it will extend these waivers until Dec. 31.
Cheri White, the administrator of the Office of Nutrition Programs and Services at the N.H. Department of Education, says five times as many SAU's participated in the federally-funded Seamless Summer Option (SSO) meals programs this year, and she expects high rates of participation in free meals programs to continue this fall.
"These meals become very important, especially because there are households still in flux," she says. "We have households going paycheck to paycheck, even if people are back to work."
Schools can offer free breakfast and lunch regardless of their reopening models. The N.H. DOE reported Sept. 2 that about a third of SAU's are reopening for full in-person instruction, while about 40 percent are opting for a hybrid model, and 17 percent sticking with remote learning.
COVID and The Classroom: NHPR wants to understand how this unusual school year is playing out across the state. Every few weeks, we'll ask you to answer a new question. The latest: How has going back to school been different for you this year? Give us a few examples here to help us tell the story.