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Maine Allowed To Extend Free Meals For Children Through August

The U.S. Department of Agriculture has announced a nationwide waiver that will allow schools and other meal sites to continue to serve all Maine children 18 and younger for the rest of the summer.

USDA-funded summer meal sites typically are limited to lower-income areas, but the extension comes in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Walter Beesley, director of school nutrition at the Maine Department of Education, says losing the program could have been a huge hardship for some families.

“With the waiver we got to keep all our sites and we didn’t lose any children or any sites, but it could have been a 60 percent loss,” he says.

The waiver allows the free meals to be served through August statewide. Beesley says there are also waivers in place that allow school districts or sponsors to do mobile deliveries.

More than 82,000 Maine students quality for free or reduced price meals.