The U.S.D.A. has issued a waiver to the state, allowing Iowa schools that are closed amid the COVID-19 outbreak to continue serving free meals to low-income students — on a grab-and-go basis.
The Sioux City Community School District plans to set up 16 different pick-up sites for distributing meals. “We will set up a system where the bags of food are available to be picked up,” says Sioux City Superintendent Paul Gausman. “We aren’t going to have direct human-to-human contact as a part of that, we’re not going to allow anyone to stay there and eat the food.”
Iowa schools are not required to do this, but the U.S.D.A. has given them the option to do so. Gausman expects to start distributing meals in Sioux City this week.
“Children ages one through 18 are eligible to receive these meals and these meals will not be restricted to Sioux City Community school District students only,” he says. “Each child present will be able to pick up one bag each day that includes both a breakfast and a lunch.”
According to the Iowa Department of Education, 43% of Iowa K-through-12 students qualified for a free- or reduced-price lunch at school last year.
(By Iowa Public Radio’s Katie Peikes/USDA photo)