Henrico schools served nearly 4 million free meals during the school year


The Henrico County Public School District served 3,990,370 free meals during the 2020-2021 school year.

The district provided free breakfasts and lunches to all students as part of the UDSA’s Pandemic Feeding Program, which has been in operation since March 2020. As part of this program, the HCPS District was reimbursed $ 2.24 for each breakfast and $ 3.91 for each lunch received by a student.

Surplus meals prepared but not distributed were not reimbursed. An HCPS spokesperson said the district does not keep track of numbers or calculate the cost of undistributed meals, but staff are trained to use past production data to forecast and prepare an appropriate amount of food for a given day.

School officials will continue to offer free breakfasts and lunches for those 18 and under throughout the summer. as part of the USDA Summer Foodservice Program. Meals will be provided for students who are at school in person (starting Monday at some sites and July 12 at others) and for families who pick them up at various curbside locations, which started on Monday.

Summer meals are provided under the USDA Summer Food Service Program, which is the same program used during the pandemic feeding programs in effect since March 2020.

Governor Ralph Northam announced a new task force last week to develop strategies for serving school meals that take into account more dietary restrictions.

Members of the task force include Monica Manns, Head of HCPS” Equity and Diversity Department, and Beth Teigen, chief of staff for HCPS, along with 15 other school officials from across the state.

“When our school environments reflect the history, values, cultures and traditions of the communities they serve, our students are in a better position to learn and thrive,” Northam said in a prepared statement. “The Culturally Inclusive School Meals and Calendars Working Group will identify best practices to promote knowledge about religious observances within our schools and explore how school nutrition programs can ensure that students have access to meals that correspond to their dietary constraints and respect their cultural practices.

The team will meet every two weeks in June and July and then present their recommendations to the Governor’s Children’s Cabinet as well as to superintendents, directors of school nutrition, higher education officials and school board members. in August.

For the fall, HCPS will adopt the latest USDA waiver allowing what is known as the Seamless summer option to be used throughout the next school year 2021-22. Free breakfasts and lunches will be offered to each successful student, whether in class or in distance learning. Curbside pickup will be available for registrants Henrico Virtual Academy, but the district anticipates that most meals will be served in cafeterias, as the vast majority of students return to brick-and-mortar schools in the fall.

Each meal served during the school year will be reimbursed by the federal government at the same rate as the summer feeding program.

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Anna Bryson is the educational reporter for Henrico Citizen and a member of the Report for America corps. Make a tax deductible donation to support his work, and RFA will match him dollar for dollar.

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