School Meals Program Helping Families Post Pandemic

School Meals Program Helping Families Post Pandemic

More than 2.5 million meals have been served in SCSD No. 1 since March 2020 when the COVID-19 pandemic began.

ROCK SPRINGS — The Sweetwater County School District No. 1 Nutrition Services programs have served the community since the COVID-19 pandemic began in ways that many people may not realize.

District Nutrition Services Director Angie Erramouspe told the Board of Trustees this week that more than 2.5 million meals have been served to students in SCSD No. 1 since March 2020. That includes more than 915,000 breakfasts and over 1.4 million lunches.

Statistics tracked by Nutrition Services reflect a sharp increase in meals served pre-pandemic through this month, especially in the breakfast category.

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There was also a noticeable increase in second-chance breakfasts served which Erramouspe called a “huge success.”

“There are so many more kids eating every day, and it’s been absolutely great,” she said. “We’ve served over two and a half million meals, which is a lot.”

Erramouspe said the lunch numbers have declined just a bit this year which could be the result of a lower student population and an increase in lunch costs. Meals were free during the pandemic, but families are once again paying this year.

Students who pay for meals make up about 64 percent of the district, while free meal students account for about 36 percent of the population.

But Erramouspe said nothing distinguishes one group from the other when the students are in line for meals. Applications for the free/reduced lunch program are completely confidential, and Erramouspe dispelled the myth that the information is made public.

“When students go through the line, no one knows,” she said. “They just punch in their number and they go on their way.”

She also emphasized that families can apply for free/reduced lunches at any time during the year. The free/reduced status goes into affect the day the application was received at the district.

“We understand that financial situations change, so its something we really want to encourage families to apply for throughout the entire year,” Erramouspe said.

Free/reduced meal applications can be found on the district website or by scanning the QR code recently sent to families in ParentSquare.

Proposed Changes

The United States Department of Agriculture recently released proposed long-term nutrition standards for school meal programs across the country.

The proposal phases in new limits on added sugars and additional sodium reductions, and seeks feedback on the whole grain requirements and flavors of options.

SCSD No. 1 believes the proposed changes, would burden school districts with unrealistic requirements, and it’s seeking public comment on the changes.

Comments may be submitted through April 10.