The Texas Department of Agriculture recently announced an extension of current school meal programs through the 2020-21 school year. Through the federally-funded program, all Austin ISD students will receive free school meals through June 3, the last day of school.
"The challenges families are facing because of the pandemic reach far beyond the economic impact," said Anneliese Tanner, executive director of Food Service and Warehouse Operations at Austin ISD. "More now than ever, parents and caregivers are tasked with countless roles and responsibilities. By offering free meals for all students, we are not only expanding healthy food access, but we are providing a convenience for families that helps bring better food to all students in Austin."
Austin ISD students participating in on-campus learning will receive free breakfast and lunch in the classroom or socially-distanced cafeteria.
Students participating in off-campus, remote learning will receive seven days worth of free meals at curbside sites located throughout Austin each Thursday. In addition to all enrolled students, Austin ISD will continue to provide free meals at curbside locations for any child under 19, or those over 19 who are utilizing special education resources or currently enrolled in school to complete the requirements for a high school diploma.
Meals for children may be provided to parents or caregivers at curbside locations, even when the child is not present, as long as they provide documentation at the point of meal service. Caregiver meals will continue through December as part of a partnership between Austin ISD, the Austin Ed Fund's AISD Crisis Support Fund and the city of Austin.
While Austin ISD plans to continue curbside service as long as needed, meal sites are subject to change as more students transition to on-campus learning.
No documentation is needed for students to be eligible for free meals. However, schools need income information from families to help maintain campus demographic information used for various types of funding. Income verification is needed from all families not receiving state-funded benefits, such as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program. Income verification may be submitted during the online enrollment process, electronically on the Parent Cloud or via a paper form provided on the campus.
Since meals are free for all students, Austin ISD will no longer collect meal benefit applications from any campus. No further documentation is needed from families who have already completed a meal benefits application for the current school year.
Families may view meal sites and more information at www.austinisd.org/openforlearning/meals.