Seymour students will eat free this school year.
All of them.
Grades kindergarten through 12.
For the entire 2021-22 school year.
On Monday, the Seymour R-II School District announced that for the upcoming school year, which starts on Tuesday, Aug. 24, the district is participating in the National School Lunch Program’s Seamless Summer Option (SSO), which is authorized by the National School Lunch Act.
What is the SSO?
It’s a federal program that allowed all students to eat free breakfasts and lunches during summer school.
However, due to the public-health emergency that the nation is facing with COVID-19, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food & Nutrition Service has established a waiver that will allow the SSO to extend during the 2021-22 school year.
This means that all students will be able to eat free, nutritious breakfasts and lunches at school during the 2021-22 school year and summer school through June 30, 2022.
This waiver is intended to benefit all students, most especially those living in rural, low-income communities, by giving them access to nutritious meals in a safe and efficient meal-service environment.
“It’s a blessing for both our students and their families,” Superintendent Steve Richards said Monday. “This ensures that every student has the ability to eat two healthy, filling meals every school day. It also relieves the monetary burden from the families of covering this daily expense, so those funds can be used for other family needs.”
Even though all Seymour students will be able to eat free meals this year, it will be part of the enrollment requirement that all families complete a free-and-reduced meal application, whether or not they believe they will qualify.
Richards said the reason for this is that the higher the school district’s free-and-reduced lunch percentage among its students, and the more students who meet this eligibility, the more state funding is received for a school district as a low-income school district. The school district directly benefits when every family who qualifies is counted. This will provide more funds for such items as learning resources, building supplies, textbooks and transportation costs.
“It is very important that our parents and guardians fill out the free-and-reduced applications,” Richards said.
“As a district, we’re doing everything we can do to make this process quick and easy. We just ask that our families do their part by simply filling out the applications.”
Free-and-reduced applications now are available at all three school buildings.
They also can be found on the Seymour R-II School District’s website at www.seymourschool.net.
The first day of school is Tuesday, Aug. 24, and students will have the applications sent home with them.
They only take a few minutes to complete.
Richards noted that registration for the upcoming school year is from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. next Monday and Tuesday, where the applications also will be handed out in all school buildings.
Applications also are available from Becky Misemer, the food-service secretary for the district, by calling 417-935-2287, extension 146.
“We feel fortunate that the SSO was extended for the new school year,” Richards concluded.
“Now we just need for our parents to do their part by taking a few minutes to fi ll out the free-and-reduced application and then turn it back in to the school."