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USDA extends free breakfast, lunch waiver for students through end of school year

The USDA waiver that provided Hartselle City Schools students with free breakfasts and lunches during the fall semester has been extended through the end of the school year.

In September Jenny Newton, child nutrition director for HCS, said before the pandemic roughly half of the total student body received meals provided by the schools. That number, Newton said, has increased substantially since the waiver was passed, especially for those students who receive free breakfasts.

Newton said that increase is beneficial even outside of making sure HCS students have access to nutritious food.

“Student academic achievement begins with a good breakfast, so we’ve been very happy to see those numbers increase,” she said.

The free meals are available to on-campus students as well as those who have chosen to learn virtually because of the ongoing pandemic.

Newton said virtual students can fill out a form at www.hartselletigers.org, and meals can be picked up weekly curbside.

Newton said she encourages all families to fill out the free and reduced lunch form at hartselletigers.org. Those who qualify might also be eligible for other types of aid, and the statistics benefit the school system’s Title I funds from the federal government.

Newton said there is no deadline to fill out the form, and once the USDA waiver has expired for those who do not qualify for free and reduce lunch, a 30-day period exists that will provide students with meals for the first month of the school year once school resumes in August.