San Benito High food service supervisor Jim Lewis and his crew disburse meals to the community from Baler Alley, which is located off of West Street. (contributed)

San Benito High School will continue providing free breakfast and lunch meals to anyone 18 years old or younger, regardless of whether they’re a student or not.

Adam Breen, public information officer, on Aug. 31 said that the U.S. Department of Agriculture will allow the high school to operate the summer meal program to supply free meals to all children as they head into the fall season.  

The USDA announced that the extension is good until Dec. 31 and they said it “will help ensure–no matter what the situation is on the ground–children have access to nutritious food as the country recovers from the Covid-19 pandemic.”

The meals are handed out Monday through Friday between 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. San Benito High food service supervisor Jim Lewis said the waiver gives his crew a chance to continue disbursing meals to the community from Baler Alley, which is located off of West Street.    

“We look forward to serving our neighbors and offering them nutritious meals for their students and children to help keep them fueled for learning and growing,” Lewis said. 

U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue said as the country continues to reopen and people return to work, it’s still critical that children continue to receive safe, healthy and nutritious food, according to Breen. 

“During the Covid-19 pandemic, USDA has provided an unprecedented amount of flexibilities to help schools feed kids through the school meal programs,” Perdue said. “And today, we are also extending summer meal program flexibilities for as long as we can, legally and financially. 

“This extension of summer program authority will employ summer program sponsors to ensure meals are reaching all children–whether they are learning in the classroom or virtually–so they are fed and ready to learn, even in new and ever changing learning environments.”

School Nutrition Association President Reggie Ross said the waivers to continue the meal programs “will allow school nutrition professionals to focus on nourishing hungry children for success, rather than scrambling to process paperwork and verify eligibility in the midst of a pandemic.”

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