With food insecurity rising during the COVID-19 pandemic, and because school lunches and breakfasts are often the only meals students have access to, the USDA has extended universal free school lunches through the 2021-2022 school year.
All Tewksbury students are eligible, regardless of family income.
“USDA will remain relentless in ensuring our nation’s children get the critical nutrition they need,” said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack in a statement. “The states and districts wanted waivers extended to plan for safe reopening in the fall. USDA answered the call to help America’s schools and childcare institutions serve high-quality meals while being responsive to their local needs as children safely return to their regular routines. This action also increases the reimbursement rate to school meal operators so they can serve healthy foods to our kids. It’s a win-win for kids, parents and schools.”
Tewksbury Food and Nutrition Services director Deb Mugford confirms both lunch and breakfast will be free for all Tewksbury students this year. But Mugford still encourages parents who are eligible based on income guidelines to fill out the free and reduced lunch forms because this program confers a number of benefits, including:
- Pandemic EBT (P-EBT) benefits to help purchase food
- Discounted school fees
- Free or reduced-cost internet service
- Discounted phone service
“Applications can be downloaded from our website and sent along to the child’s school or direct to this office,” says Mugford.