COPPERAS COVE — Copperas Cove Independent School District parents sent their children back to school in the new year with one less things to worry about: paying for breakfast and lunch. The Copperas Cove ISD Child Nutrition Department extended its free meal program through the end of the 2020-2021 school year.

CCISD was granted a temporary waiver from the USDA that allowed the extension of the district’s summer feeding program, where free meals are offered to children ages 18 and younger, through December 31, 2020. CCISD Child Nutrition Director Melissa Bryan said she was convinced that USDA would extend the waiver into 2021 due to the severity of the pandemic.

“Many school districts in Texas decided not to opt in to the waiver because they were concerned with the limited time that students might be able to eat free and then the district would have to start charging when the waiver ran out,” Bryan said. “I was not concerned with that because I witnessed firsthand the meals that we gave out to the community March through July and saw the challenge that many families were facing with basic food needs for their family.”  

“Time after time, I heard from households who had never been in a line to pick up food for free for their family and they were embarrassed or just thankful,” Bryan said. “I reminded each household who shared its story with me that we are a community and we all pull together to do the best we can to help the kids in our district.”

The waiver allowing students to eat free required additional paperwork, reports, training of staff and restructuring of the child nutrition program.

“There were several other waivers that I opted into that allowed us to serve meals on campuses in the distribution style to ensure social distancing as a result of COVID,” Bryan said. “This also allows me the flexibility that when we have to switch students or a school to all remote learning, I already have measures in place for the families to drive to any one of the open sites for remote students and pick up meals.”

CCISD’s current waiver from the USDA will provide free meals to students through June 20.

“It is important to me that the Child Nutrition Department continues to support the households in the community that we continue to be a safety net to help continue to eliminate food insecurities in families in Cove,” Bryan said. “Our mission does not change. We are feeding the kids.”