COLUMBIA, S.C. (WIS) - School districts are finalizing their meal programs to ensure every child has access to free breakfast and lunch, even while they’re learning from home.
Richland One and Richland Two are planning to start the school year completely online, so instead of school bus drivers picking up children, they’ll be dropping off meals in communities. “Our services and how we prepare and distribute them are specifically designed so that it does not inconvenience families. So, they don’t have to come to pick up meals every day, but they can do them within clusters of days and also have those meals available for their children,” said Richland One Director of Nutrition Services, Tracy Dixon.
Every student in Richland One qualifies for free meals through the Community Eligibility Provision program.
Richland Two was also able to offer all students free meals this spring and summer because of a federal waiver, but that expired on July 30th. “One big change for us moving forward is we you show up whoever you are, you’re 18 and under we give you a free meal. You now have to a point of sale, like you go to a restaurant or store, we have to verify who you are your meal status and then give you a meal, so that’s one change that’s going to be a little more challenging for us,” explained Richland Two Chief Operations Officer, Will Anderson.
Another big concern both districts face is a shortage of cafeteria workers and increased meal preparation costs.
Richland One says they have thirty vacant positions, not including workers who may choose not to return, and they’re having to spend between ten to thirty percent more on nutrition services.
While buses will be used to transport meals to start the year, as soon as the districts start offering in-person learning, they will only be able to do school pick up. When both districts resume in-person learning, they say elementary students will eat lunch in their classrooms, while middle and high school students will be spread out in the cafeteria during to adhere to social distancing
Richland One is asking parents who would like meals delivered to them during virtual learning to complete an online meal survey by Friday, August 7th.
For more information visit the district’s website www.richlandone.org.