USDA extends program to provide free meals to Hamilton County Students

HAMILTON COUNTY, Tenn (WDEF) – For more than a year, the U.S Department of Agriculture has helped to provide free breakfast and lunch for students across our region.

Now with the extension of that program, Hamilton County Schools will once again be able to cover the costs of meals for their students.

Hamilton County Schools have provided meals under the Seamless Summer Option program through the National School Lunch program, which has now been extended through next year. 

Hamilton County Schools nutritionist says this meal program has continued to provide support for families during tough financial times. 

 “We saw the greatest need at the beginning of the pandemic. As the pandemic has gone on things have gotten better and people have gone back to work. So we haven’t seen as big of a need but we still see quite a significant number of families who didn’t need it before that need it now,” says Kristen Nauss, Hamilton County Schools Nutritionist. 

During the last school year, students switched between virtual learning and in person classes—but in August – things will be back to normal-with students returning to the classroom full time. 

This will not only impact the classroom, but also make the food distribution process easier. 

“Since most of our students will be back inside the building, we will be providing meals to all of our students at no cost but we won’t do all the take homes and pick ups that we had to do last year,” says Nauss.

School officials say it costs $25 for a week’s worth of food-for each student. 

“When families have to pay for school meals, it might not be expensive but it does add up over time. So not having to worry about sending their child with money for meals allows that family to put that money into other things that the child may need,” says Nauss. 

Hamilton County Schools says they have distributed over 5 million meals since the start of the pandemic and are excited to be able to continue feeding students with no cost to them. 

The program will now be extended for all students through May of 2022.

Categories: Chattanooga, Hamilton County, Local News, Regional News