Federal funding reimbursing Shawano schools for meals

District can provide free daily breakfasts, lunches through end of school year
Lee Pulaski
City Editor

The Shawano School District will be able to keep providing free meals to all students, regardless of income, Superintendent Randi Anderson announced this week.

Something that started out as a way to keep students fed during the pandemic shutdown last spring will continue regardless of whether school is in session or not, according to Anderson. The federal government informed the district that funding to provide breakfasts and lunches will continue through the 2020-21 school year, she said.

“That’s a wonderful resource for our families,” Anderson said. “I think it’s just an awesome piece for our community during these crazy times.”

Normally, school districts charge for meals, although they provide free and reduced-price breakfasts and lunches for families that meet certain low-income guidelines. However, when the state mandate came down in March to close all schools, many districts were determined to continue providing meals to students, even though they couldn’t come to school. The program continued through the summer, where Anderson said the district had “great participation” from families.

Shawano School District had set up several sites in the area where families could pick up pre-prepared meals daily. The district is continuing to do that, according to Anderson, for families who have opted to go to all virtual learning, regardless of whether the schools are open.

The district will receive a reimbursement of $2.37 for every breakfast they serve and $4.15 per lunch.

As of Oct. 15, the district had served 18,403 breakfasts and 26,084 lunches since the beginning of school on Sept. 1, a slight increase for breakfasts but a steep decline for lunches. At the same time last year, the district had served 16,042 breakfasts and 44,867 lunches, according to information provided by Taher, Inc., the company that manages Shawano’s food service.

The federal government funding will also allow the district to provide weekend meals for families in need, Anderson said. A survey sent out to families indicated 172 students would benefit from the weekend meals program, and those students started receiving those weekend meals this week.

The district currently has 55% of its students that qualify for free or reduced meals.

Having meals be free for all students will save the district time in one aspect — contacting families when meal accounts are considerably in the red. School officials have previously said that some families’ meal accounts have been in debt by hundreds of dollars sometimes, with the schools taking steps such as preventing graduates from getting their diplomas until the debts are paid.

“It does help with the ability to not have to track that,” Anderson said. “We still track the number of breakfasts and lunches that are served.”



Families that are interested in receiving free weekend meals can fill out a survey online at www.shawanoschools.com. Once approved, families can pick up the meals at 4 p.m. on Fridays at Shawano Community Middle School, 1050 S. Union St., Shawano.