LAKE OF THE OZARKS, Mo. — The extension of federal waivers is allowing Lake area schools to continue providing free meals to all students. The waivers began as a response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
LakeExpo did not speak to every district in the Lake of the Ozarks, but the larger districts—Camdenton R-III, School of the Osage, and Morgan County R-II (Versailles)—all confirmed they are continuing to feed students free meals under the program.
Camdenton Superintendent Tim Hadfield said the district began free breakfast and lunch for all students on September 8.
"The waiver ends on December 31st, 2020," Morgan County R-II schools said in a letter to parents. "When we return to school on January 5th, 2021 for 2nd semester, our students and families will go back to their original status for meal service. We will keep you informed if any changes are made regarding food services for our district."
All three districts are offering pick-up options.
Morgan County R-II gave the following directions for families seeking pick-up service: "Curbside pickup on Monday’s, Wednesday’s, and Friday’s starting on Monday, September 28th. Please email Mr. Daniel Palmer, our director of Nutritional Services, at firstname.lastname@example.org, if you are wanting to pick up these meals for children. Please email Daniel by 9 am on those days, so our kitchen staff will be able to get meals ready for pick up. Pickups will be from 12:30 -1:30 on those days. Students and families will be allowed to pick up meals for multiple days using the curbside pick up. This service will be located just outside the high school kitchen on the east side of the high school."
For Camdenton R-III families, pick-up service is available at their "home" buildings (where their child attends or would be attending, if doing distance learning). The district asks parents to notify them beforehand, and they can pick up breakfast and lunch each day during the scheduled meal times of in-seat learning students.
Hadfield provided some FAQs from the district's Nutrition Services Director Julie Evans. (These are available on the Camdenton Schools Food and Nutrition Facebook page as well.)
Camdenton -- Free meals FAQ:
How are we getting meals free?
-The USDA extended a waiver that allowed all children to eat free during COVID shutdowns that began in March. I, along with many nutrition directors across the state, contacted the USDA, our state and local politicians, and filed many applications asking for this waiver to be extended. They finally agreed!😁
Does staff get free meals too?
-No, our department is a child’s nutrition program, so the waiver only covers children’s meals.
Can distance learners eat free too?
-Yes, please see the flyer on this page for details.
What about the money already on our student’s account?
-Their money stays on their account. At this time, the waiver is only extended through December 2020. Beginning in January, only families that have been approved for free meals will continue receiving meals free. These funds can also be used if your student buys a la cart items.
Do I still need to put money on my child’s meal account?
-If your child has a negative balance, yes. This will be a great opportunity to pay off a negative balance since charges will not continue to accrue daily.
Do I still need to fill out the application for free and reduced meals?
-Yes, this waiver isn’t indefinite. Your application will determine their status after the waiver expires. The free and reduced numbers are also a factor in district funding not affiliated with the nutrition program.
-Only one full reimbursable breakfast and/or lunch will be free to students each day.
-When bringing meals from home, a milk will be considered a la cart and will not be free.