COURTESY OF DOUG WINCHELL
The Pullman Public School District is continuing to provide grab-and-go meals to children and teenagers aged 1-18 after receiving funding for the Summer Food Service Program from the United States Department of Agriculture.
Nutrition Services Supervisor Jessie Campbell said the Summer Food Service Program is a national program that allows different entities, like schools or other community organizations, to offer food.
Shannon Focht, communications coordinator for Pullman Public Schools, said the district was approved for the Summer Food Service Program on June 22. She said the district does not usually qualify for funds to cover the program’s cost, but they did this year.
The program will start on July 1 and end Aug. 21. She said the district hopes to have about 160 meals distributed per day, but on July 3 there will be no distribution of meals because it is an employee holiday.
The grab-and-go meals are free for children and teenagers 1-18 years old. There is no qualification process and documentation needed to receive meals, Focht said.
Meals must be picked up from Jefferson Elementary School because the program requires pick-up locations to meet eligibility requirements. Locations can be eligible either because there is a high percentage of students who qualify for free or reduced lunch in the area or the locations meet requirements based on census data from households in the surrounding area, Campbell said.
The amount of money the district receives for the program is based on a reimbursement model, Campbell said. There are certain requirements that the district needs to follow in order to get the money reimbursed to them. This usually includes requiring children to eat the meals at the pick-up location. However, this requirement has been waived by the USDA due to COVID-19.
Campbell said every month, the number of meals served is counted and that number is submitted to the state. The state then reimburses the money.
Campbell said the grab-and-go meals have both breakfast and lunch. The program requires meals to include grains, milk, fruits, vegetables and meat or a meat alternative such as cheese.
She said the Pullman School District purchases the food in advance from the USDA and other vendors.
“[We] saw that there was a need and continues to be a need to reach students who weren’t able to … get meals,” Campbell said, “and that’s been a source of breakfast and lunch for a lot of kids in the community.”
Focht said meals can be picked up from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m Monday through Friday at Jefferson Elementary School.