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USDA expands free school meal waivers for remainder of school year

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WAUSAU, Wis. (WAOW)-- The Wisconsin Department of Instruction announced Thursday that since March, more than 31 million meals were distributed out to Wisconsin students.

Now, the U.S. Department of Agriculture is announcing their free meal programs will continue through December.

Despite students not being in classrooms for several months, school districts around central Wisconsin still found way to feed students.

"At one point we reached our peak in the end of April and May, and we were giving out 13,000 meals a week," said Laticia Baudhuin, Director of Nutrition for D.C. Everest School District.

The Stevens Point Area school district gave out more than 240,000 meals since March.

"A child who isn't hungry will be able to concentrate to learn better," said Tom Owens, the director of business services for Stevens Point Area School District.

National programs like Seamless Summer Option, The School Breakfast Program, and the Summer Food Service Program distributed a combined 31,350,998 meals to Wisconsin students 18 years or younger, living in low-income areas.

The USDA is extending their summer meal program waivers until Dec, 31 2020.

"Now we can just count the students as they come through, so it eliminates the hassle on our part, but really more importantly the biggest thing for me is how helpful this will be to our families," said Baudhuin.

The program is also offered to districts learning virtually, which allows parents or guardians to pick up meals at certain sites.

"We have 30 bus locations. Where we are going to position buses Monday-Friday and parents can log onto our website and food services page and indicate what meals they want for our kids and what location they will pick it up," said Owens.

Victoria Saha

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