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The Washoe County School District will return lunch money collected in September.
The district said the refund process is manual and it doesn’t know yet the amount of money it will return to lunch accounts.
The refunds are due after the district announced last week that school meals would be free through 2020 under a U.S. Department of Agriculture program that started Sept. 1 as a response to the coronavirus pandemic.
Children of any age up to 18 are eligible regardless of a family’s income status, and they do not need to be enrolled in the district to qualify.
Superintendent Kristen McNeill said the district will also apply to extend the program for the entire school year.
Students at elementary schools will receive free breakfast and lunch.
Middle and high schoolers on a hybrid schedule will receive meals when they are in school and can pick up breakfast and lunch at the end of each in-school day for the following distance-learning day.
Full distance learners and any child under the age of 18 can pick up seven-day breakfast and lunch packs at six sites beginning Tuesday.
The free lunch program comes amid a financial hit the district’s nutrition program suffered when schools were closed in March.
Chief Financial Officer Mark Mathers said during a meeting in May that the nutrition services made $1.2 million net profit in fiscal year 2020 before COVID-19. At that meeting, he estimated the losses from COVID-19 from March to June, when schools were closed, totaled nearly $3 million. Most of the money was from continuing to pay staff while not feeding as many children.
“Although the increased revenue from the universal free program will help, we still have much lower enrollment in brick-and-mortar schools and are therefore still experiencing an overall drop in revenue to the Nutrition Services fund,” the district said in a statement.
Free lunch pickup times, locations
Available starting Sept. 29 for distance learners and children not enrolled in WCSD:
Tuesdays: Noon to 1 p.m. North Valleys High School, 3 to 4 p.m. Traner Middle School
Wednesdays: 9 to 10 a.m. Wooster High School, 3 to 4 p.m. Clayton Middle School.
Thursdays: 10 to 11 a.m. Sparks High School, 3 to 4 p.m. Pine Middle School
To reserve a free meal visit this page.
More information: 775-325-8410.
Siobhan McAndrew tells stories about the people of Northern Nevada and covers education in Washoe County. Read her journalism right here. Consider supporting her work by subscribing to the Reno Gazette Journal.