Odtis Collins

(Sept. 11, 2020) Worcester County Public Schools will follow the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food and Nutrition Services extension for the Summer Food Service Program and waivers through the end of 2020, or until available funding runs out, according to Odtis Collins, the coordinator of food services for the county school system.

The county public schools are serving meals for curbside pickup Monday through Friday from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., and all meals are free through the Summer Food Service Program.

The pickup locations are Snow Hill Elementary, Ebenezer United Methodist Church in Snow Hill (beginning Monday), Pocomoke Middle School and Buckingham Elementary School in Berlin.

Sen. Ben Cardin and Sen. Chris Van Hollen from Maryland and 27 colleagues are urging the U.S. Department of Agriculture to extend school meal waivers through the end of the 2020-2021 school year, so schools have the flexibility to serve students whether they are engaged in distance or in-person learning.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture extended until the end of the 2020-21 school year the waivers that allow parents and guardians to pick up school meals – rather than students themselves – and to remove the requirement that school meals be served in group settings.

At the county’s public schools, the students are not required to be present at meal distribution.

“The process will be that we will request the name of the kid(s) and guardian(s) to identify the relationship of the family,” Collins said. “The information will be logged by date.”

The U.S. Department of Agriculture has extended some waivers only until the end of the 2020 calendar year, including one that allows school districts a higher level of reimbursement and one that accounts for unanticipated school closures.

The senators asked the U.S. Department of Agriculture to reverse its decision and use the authority it has been given under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act to extend the Area Eligibility Waiver, the Summer Food Service Program Waiver, the Seamless Summer Option Waiver and the Unexpected School Closures Waiver nationwide for the entire 2020-2021 school year.

“The remaining waivers that you have not extended for the entire 2020-2021 school year are desperately needed by school meal providers across the country to ensure they have the funding, flexibility, and certainty to continue feeding schoolchildren for the entire upcoming school year,” the senators wrote to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. “Many localities are dealing with budget shortfalls due to the economic impact of the covid-19 pandemic and are relying on federal assistance to keep providing meals. Furthermore, millions of parents have lost their jobs in the past six months and are struggling to ensure that their children have access to nutritious and healthy meals.”

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