Most Valley school districts plan to provide meals to students opting to learn remotely due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture issued waivers in August extending existing rules changes allowing greater flexibility to school districts in serving meals through the National School Lunch Program.
The waivers allow schools to serve meals outside of mandated service times. They also allow meals to be served outside of school buildings and permit parents and guardians to pick the meals up for students.
The USDA extended the summer food service program through December, too, which allows schools to simply serve meals and tally a count to submit to the department rather than collect payment on-site or use a point-of-sales system to track each meal served.
Danville Area School District set distribution days for meal pickup for Bridge Model and Ironman and eLearning Academy students: 9-9:45 a.m. Wednesdays at Danville Middle School. There will be exceptions made for holiday schedules, Superintendent Ricki Boyle said.
Coming out of Labor Day Weekend, pickups are set for Tuesday and Thursday, Boyle said.
A combined 463 students across all grade levels at Line Mountain School District receive a free or reduced lunch, according to Superintendent Dave Campbell. The district’s entire student population totals 1,046 students.
Rather than coordinate a single pickup time, Campbell said Line Mountain is making individual appointments for online learners: 37 at the elementary level, 43 in middle school and 25 in high school.
“Any student can pick up a breakfast or lunch, they just have to make arrangements,” Campbell said. “With the low numbers selecting online (learning), it’s just as easy to have them call and set a pickup.”
Meal distributions at Mifflinburg and Lewisburg school districts are being finalized, according to the respective district superintendents.
“I expect we will develop a plan for our students who participate in our e-Learning program to also receive meals from the school,” Superintendent Dan Lichtel, Mifflinburg, said.
Lewisburg Superintendent Jennifer Polinchock said the district will likely coordinate a twice-weekly lunch pickup with multiple meals.
“This will be for families that want/need them,” Polinchock wrote by email. "Unlike the spring, only kids who qualify in regular circumstances will get the meals."
Midd-West School District chose not to offer meals to cyber students but circumstances may cause that to change, according to Superintendent Rick Musselman.
"Parents and their children have a choice to be educated virtually or in our cyber program. Since they are not in our schools, we are not providing breakfast or lunch. Possibly, if we go to a hybrid or all-cyber program, we would look at ways to provide meals as we did last spring,” Musselman said.
Milton Area School District students learning remotely are offered meal pickup daily, Sharon Adami, food service director and wellness coordinator, said. It’s a curbside program that operates prior to the start of in-school lunch periods.
At Warrior Run, Superintendent Alan Hack said most students are attending school in-person and the district has worked with families of students who have selected cyber or synchronous models.
"We've been able to successfully coordinate with every family that has been in need and continue to encourage families to reach out should a need arise," Jonathan Hall, Food Service Supervisor said. "Within our buildings, we have made some great efforts to streamline our service and take every reasonable precaution to ensure our students are getting healthy, delicious, and filling meals. The streamlining has allowed us to better focus our efforts on serving our students the best that we absolutely can through this tremendously difficult time."
The Pennsylvania Department of Education approved for Mount Carmel Area in the 2019-20 school year to provide all students with free meals under the Community Eligibility Provision, a reimbursement option for schools in high poverty areas that wish to offer free meals to all children.
Superintendent Peter Cheddar said times are set for students learning remotely to pick up their meals: junior/senior high building students, 12:30-1 p.m. Monday, Wednesday, Friday, main office; elementary building students, 1:15-1:45 p.m. Monday, Wednesday, Friday.
“Our reopening plan is unique that all students and families are able to identify their option choice based upon their specific desires and needs,” Superintendent Frank Jankowski of the Selinsgrove Area School District said. “We have applied for and been granted the community waiver to feed elsewhere, if needed, upon changes to our in-person availability.”
Reporters Justin Strawser, Rick Dandes, Marcia Moore and Eric Scicchitano contributed to this report.