BATON ROUGE, La. - After securing waivers from the federal government that enable schools to serve meals to all children age 18 and younger regardless of their location and income during the extended school closure period, the Louisiana Department of Education (LDOE) today published a parish-by-parish list of school meal sites to inform families where, when and how free food can be accessed.
The list, which is accessible on the LDOE's dedicated Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) webpage on its website and on its Child Nutrition Program (CNP) website, will be continually updated as more information is received. School systems operating meal programs that are not listed should update their CNP application.
"Schools do more than educate our children; they also provide them with healthy, nutritious meals," said Acting State Superintendent Beth Scioneaux. "Despite classrooms being closed to students, schools have stepped up to ensure no child in their community goes hungry during this uncertain time."
All public schools in Louisiana will be closed to students from March 16 until April 13, according to an emergency proclamation signed by Gov. John Bel Edwards to slow the spread of COVID-19 in Louisiana. While it is not required, school systems and schools may serve a maximum of two free meals per day to children age 18 and younger, regardless of where the child is enrolled in school, during the closure period. They may offer breakfast, lunch, a snack or dinner at all school sites or at select sites.
Schools and centers that do not offer meal programs should refer families to ones that do. Districts, charter schools, private schools, and early childhood centers are encouraged to collaborate when possible to ensure that all children in the community continue to receive meals.
The LDOE has secured a number of waivers from the U.S. Department of Agriculture to provide schools with increased flexibilities to provide meals during this extraordinary time. The waivers allow:
- Non-congregate feeding options, such as grab-and-go meals and curbside pickup;
- Timing flexibility that allows families to pick up the daily allotted meals, such as breakfast and lunch or lunch and a snack, at the same time;
- School sites to participate regardless of their area eligibility; and
- Alternate delivery methods, such as transporting meals to off-site locations.
For more information about food services for K-12 schools, including instructions for school systems wanting to establish services, read the LDOE's K-12 FAQ document. The document will be updated on an ongoing basis.