By KEITH RYAN CARTWRIGHT
Rutherford County Schools

With students returning to school this week, breakfast and lunch will continue to be offered free of charge for traditional and distance-learners throughout the district as well as anyone not enrolled in Rutherford County Schools who are 18 and under.

The schools will provide two meals per day for anyone 18 or under and parents can pick up seven days-worth of meals for each child once a week. Parents of in-school students can also pickup meals for the weekend.

“Any child 18 or under is the only qualifier,” Smith said. “They qualify for breakfast and lunch, no questions asked. They do not have to be in our school district. They just have to be 18 and under.”

For convenience, meals are being handed out at 44 different school locations throughout Rutherford County.

Pickup procedures are different for each school and School Nutrition Coordinator Eric Smith recommends contacting the school cafeteria manager beforehand “to allow for a timely pickup process.”

If a family has children attending more than one school or children not yet of school age, parents can choose to pick up all the means at one convenient time and location. For instance, a parent with three children can pick up all 42 meals at one location, including 21 breakfast meals for the week and another 21 for lunch.

Reaching out prior to your arrival with make the process as “easy as pulling up, giving us your last name and you meals are in your car and you are ready to go,” according to Smith.

The free meals are part of the pandemic relief after the U.S. Department of Agriculture decided to allow school districts to switch from a traditional based model – otherwise known as the national school lunch program – to the seamless summer option model, which is the model RCS uses during the summer.

It allows the district to feedall children 18 or under. This includes every child, not just those enrolled in RCS.

This option was extended into the school year and will continue until the last day of September 2021.

“We’ve had a week where we’ve been preparing meals,” Smith concluded. “We’re ready to go. Come visit us, come let us do what we do, which is feed children.”