I hope this note finds you all healthy and adjusting to the routines of remote learning and teaching. I know my family and I are starting to feel a rhythm in our days and finding ourselves to be so grateful to be living in the Upper Valley. I wanted to reach out today with some resources for your schools around school meals and an opportunity to celebrate the amazing work that our school food service professionals are doing.
Friday, May 1 is National School Lunch Hero Day! Our school food service staff, as well as many others, have jumped to the rescue during the COVID-19 pandemic to provide students with delicious, nutritious, and thoughtful meals. This has been no easy task, and one that should be recognized and applauded. Join us in showing gratitude and appreciation to our lunch heroes. Look at the link provided above for creative ideas on how to celebrate them!
Believe it or not summer is just a couple of months away. I urge all our schools to start planning for their summer meal programs now. Unfortunately the USDA has not extended the waiver on the requirement that summer meals be congregant meals nor the waiver on the 50% free/reduced rate threshold to offer summer meals. These waivers are due to expire at the end of the school year. Both New Hampshire and Vermont have requests into the USDA to extend these waivers through the summer. I urge schools to start making plans to continue their feeding programs through the summer. Every day thousands of meals are going out to children across our region. If these meals were to stop, it would be an overwhelming burden on the already stressed food shelves in our region. Please reach out to us if you need assistance around these possible programmatic changes.
I wanted to connect you with some helpful resources from Hunger Free Vermont. One is a School Meal Stakeholder Tipsheet. This tipsheet is great to share with your educators to help them understand the role schools are currently playing and the other food access resources they could be sharing with their families. Hunger Free also has a School Meal Application Flyer that could be shared to encourage families to enroll in school meals and help your schools receive more funding and get you over the 50% mark in case the waivers are not extended. UNH Extension put together a Food Access Map. This is a fantastic tool to pass along to families so they can find food shelves in their area and volunteer opportunities.
We know these are difficult and stressful times. We are here to help. Please reach out and let us know if you need help with making these seasonal program shifts, want to connect to some local suppliers, or just need copies of the linked flyers.
I tip my hat to all of you and the important and courageous work you are doing everyday.
Food & Farm Program Manager
Farm to School Coordinator