School district will continue to provide free meals to youth

Winters families line up down Edwards Street to receive a prepared lunch from the school district. Photo by Rodney Orosco/Winters Express

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When students in the Winters Joint Unified School District returned back to school on Wednesday, Aug. 26, the Director of Food Service, Cathy Olsen, was still trying to navigate the plan of how to provide food for local youth.

She patiently waited to hear from the state and the federal government on if they would continue to operate in an Emergency SOS (and provide free meals for all children 18 and under) or if they would have to work out a process to create a card scanning system.

As of Monday morning, Olsen was working to finish the process of distributing cards for each student in the district.

The drive-up meal distribution would allow families who were eligible for free or reduced lunch to sign in, and for other families to pay for lunch using their EZ School Pay account.

On Monday Olsen received an update that the U.S. Department of Agriculture had announced the extension of critical waivers to allow the continued operation of the Summer Food Service Program and Seamless Summer Option through Dec. 31.

What this meant for Winters JUSD is they would be able to continue to provide free meals for all children ages 18 and under until Dec. 31.

In addition to the free meals, families will continue to receive a produce box through the USDA Farmers to Families Food Box program.

In addition, the Winters Farm to School nonprofit will continue to provide produce to families direct from local farms.

District Meal Distribution

Meals will continue to be distributed at Waggoner Elementary School, in a drive-thru system, on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.

The Tuesday meal distribution will include two lunches and two breakfasts. The Thursday meal distribution will include three lunches and three breakfasts.

All meals come with an accompanying milk and/or juice container.

Families are still encouraged to fill out the Meal Eligibility Form provided at the beginning of school.

After Dec. 31, the regular lunch rates will apply.

Regular student meal rates are lunch for $3.50 and breakfast for $2. Reduced-price rates are lunch for $0.41 and breakfast for $0.31.

Meal applications are available on the Winters JUSD website at https://www.wintersjusd.org/food_services and at the school district office at 909 West Grant Ave.

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