USDA Free Meal Program

Effectively immediately, ALL students are eligible to receive FREE meals. That means every Perry Township Schools students, regardless of socioeconomic status or household income, can receive breakfast and lunch at their school at no cost. 

The free meals are the result of a nationwide emergency waiver from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The program will run through December 31, 2020, or until USDA funding runs out (whichever occurs first). At that time, breakfast and lunch meals will return to the normal price. 

What is considered a free meal?
Students can receive 1 FREE lunch and 1 FREE breakfast per school day. Meals must meet the existing USDA guidelines in order to be free. Lunch must contain at least three components, with one being a fruit or vegetable. A la carte items, such as extra entrees, extra milk, extra side servings, snacks, and drinks, will still be available for purchase at an additional charge.

How do I know if my child is purchasing a meal that qualifies as free?
We will modify our process so any student who purchases an entree is also offered appropriate side items to ensure the meal qualifies as free.
For example: If a student chooses a sandwich entree or a salad entree, they will be asked to also choose a fruit or vegetable to make it a full meal. Students may continue to purchase a la carte items and extra entrees at current pricing.

Why must meals meet certain guidelines to be FREE?
The USDA requires that school meals funded by the government complies with K-12 nutritional guidelines, including meeting the component requirements.

Will my student still use their lunch account?
Yes, students will still use student lunch accounts to track purchases. Families can continue to deposit money into E-Funds for the purchase of a la carte foods. 
The Child Nutrition Department is in the process of crediting student accounts for qualifying full meal charges of Paid or Reduced-price breakfasts and lunches incurred since the start of school on August 5. Fees for a la carte items will not be credited to your student’s account. 

What if my student is a secondary Hybrid or 100% remote learner?
Cafe Express will continue to offer take-home meals for secondary hybrid learners on Mondays and Tuesdays and these will now be FREE for all students for the duration of the USDA’s free meal waiver program.
In the near future, we will also be adding a weekly meal pick-up service for students enrolled in 100% remote learning. These meals will also be free of charge to all Perry Township students, regardless of meal eligibility status. Please stay tuned for further information on this service.


Do I still need to complete a Free/Reduced application if I think I qualify?
Yes. This program is currently only in effect until December 31, 2020, or until USDA waiver funds run out. At that time, student eligibility status will revert back to either Paid, Free, or Reduced. If you have already been approved for Free/Reduced meals for 2020-21, that status remains in effect for the entire school year. If you have not yet applied, but believe you may be eligible, you may submit a Free/Reduced application at any time. Click here to apply.
Note: To qualify for Textbook Rental Assistance, a student must first qualify for Free/Reduced breakfast and lunch via the application process.

Does Cafe Express incur a charge for offering free meals to all students?
This USDA waiver program for free student meals is funded by the federal government and all costs to Cafe Express are fully reimbursed. Therefore, we encourage all families to take advantage of this program during this difficult time.
Thank you for your continued support of Perry Township’s Cafe Express Child Nutrition Department!