By: Ryan Zafft

School meals are now free for all students at the Laramie High School, allowing students to receive free grab-and-go meals for breakfast and lunch until June 30, 2021.

The USDA’s Summer Food Service Program (SFSP) has been extended until the end of the school year, giving all students 18 and under access to free breakfast and lunch.

COVID-19 has fundamentally changed the way meals are served.

Jill Dunn is the general manager of food services for the Albany County School District #1.

“The meals have all been transformed into grab-and-go meals. Everything is proportioned and packed individually to reduce contamination,” Dunn said.

With the spread of COVID-19, Albany County Food Services wants to ensure students and parents that school meals are still a safe and healthy option for LHS.

Students who are attending school from home will also be able to receive the free lunches.

“LHS and LMS [Laramie Middle School] students can also drop by the cafeteria at the end of the day to pick up a Grab & Go bag with meals for their ‘at home’ days,” administrative assistant Cassandra Bushman said.

Free meals will be available to all schools in ACSD#1, meaning that LMS along with other schools will also be eligible to receive free meals.

Although meals are now funded by a different program, they will still contain the same food in order to meet federal guidelines when providing healthy meals.

“Free meals contain a nutritionally balanced breakfast or lunch. We try to provide tasty nutritious options that students will enjoy eating,” Bushman said.

Free meals will have a big effect on Albany County Schools.

“Free meals mean that any child in the district can eat for free until June 30th. It is financially helpful to not have to purchase and prepare school lunches. It provides a sense of security in knowing that any student can have a nutritious meal for free,” Bushman said.

In past years at LHS, about 145 students would buy school breakfast and 200 would buy lunch every day.  

Students are encouraged to get free meals because, in part, it creates more jobs in the community. If there is a higher demand for meals in schools, more people can be hired to work at school cafeterias.

The meals will be funded by the Summer Food Service Program, a program that ensures that children receive nutritious meals.

In the past, the Summer Food Service Program has helped with the ‘Grab N Go’ meal program which was available to any student or child from age two to 18 during the summer.

Students could have one Grab N Go bag from Monday to Thursday and could receive three bags on Friday (one for Friday, and two for the weekend).