Free meals for most SF students to return next week

SFUSD to provide food at 19 pick-up sites with help of federal waiver for lunch program

With the return of federal funding to its lunch program, the San Francisco Unified School District expects to more than double its current output and begin offering free meals to most students on Wednesday.

SFUSD will first expand from providing meals to enrolled students in low-income households to all students in the district. About two weeks later, the program will expand to all San Francisco students except those in certain charter schools, according to Jennifer LeBarre, executive director of SFUSF Student Nutrition Services.

“We’re definitely preparing to serve more meals this week,” LeBarre said.

SFUSD provided meals to all students after campuses closed in March due to coronavirus, serving an average of 142,000 meals for more than 10,500 students each week. But, like other schools nationwide, the district had to once again limit free meals to students in low-income households after a U.S. Department of Agriculture waiver for the program expired.

Even with that narrow eligibility, SFUSD served a weekly average of 64,000 meals for 4,380 students once school began on Aug. 17. Some districts saw up to a 90 percent drop in meals served, LeBarre said.

At the end of August, the USDA announced new waivers to provide free meals until Dec. 31. It could come sooner for SFUSD, depending on fast it gives out meals.

“I just have to say what a low bar that is, that it’s a big deal that we feed hungry children in this country,” said Susan Solomon, president of the United Educators of San Francisco. “I’m excited because kids are less likely to starve now in San Francisco, good grief.”

SFUSD dining staff will provide five days worth of breakfast, lunch and dinner for pickup once a week. Food will be standard school fare like sandwiches, pizza, fruit, milk, cereal, muffins and pancakes, LeBarre said.

Meals are available for pickup largely on Wednesdays from 10:30 p.m. to noon at 18 sites: A.P. Giannini Middle School, Bret Harte Elementary School, Brown Middle School, Carver Elementary School, Carmichael K-8, Chavez Elementary School, Denman Middle School, El Dorado Elementary School, Jordan High School, Lau Elementary School, Lick Middle School, Lincoln High School, Longfellow Elementary School, Mission High School, Roosevelt Middle School, Rosa Parks Elementary School, San Francisco International High School or Washington High School.

Ship Shape Community Center on Treasure Island also distributes meals on Fridays from 10:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. Due to USDA area requirements, A.P. Giannini cannot hand out dinner time meals.

Adults can pick up without children present but must provide the barcode or pin number for the student’s meal account, a student ID card, certification letter, eligibility letter or placement letter for the current school year.

Students enrolled in charter schools other than Creative Arts, KIPP Bay Academy, KIPP Bayview Academy, KIPP Bayview Elementary, Leadership High School, New School, Gateway, and Envision City Arts and Tech High School are not eligible for meals provided by SFUSD.

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