USD 475 will provide free breakfast and lunch for children age 1 to 18 in the school district for the entire school year.

According to COO David Wild, this service is offered courtesy of a federal program.

“It is at no cost to the district,” he said.

This is the continuation of a program the district used last year to provide meals for children, related to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

“It’s something we’ve been able to do because the federal government has deemed it appropriate and proper,” Wild said. “They’ve been providing the funding for it. Our challenges remain finding labor — personnel to support, staff our food service program — and supplies. Supply is becoming a problem.”

According to USD 475 Child Nutrition Director Shelly Gunderson, the district’s children need the program.

“It’s helpful because they don’t have to worry about filling out paperwork to eat a meal,” she said. “Anyone that needs it can come get it.”

The district is currently looking at the possibility of providing meals to daycares as well as USD 475 students, Gunderson said, though the details of this have not been worked out yet.

Gunderson said the district hoped to provide more hot meals for students this year than last. COVID-19 restrictions made it difficult to provide hot entrees for children last school year, leading the district to have to seek out ways to serve cold meals and meals students could warm up at home.

“We’re hoping to have a hot entree back like we used to,” she said. “There would only be a cold one maybe twice a month or something.”

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