The school year is coming to an end for Nevada’s K-12 students, and as grades are posted and summer break commences, children in some counties are losing access to the free meals they were being provided at distribution sites throughout the state.
Several counties have already closed their school meal distribution sites for break, and more will follow suit as the summer months continue. While several counties, including Clark and Churchill, have extended their meals programs throughout the summer, many do not have the capability to do so and students and their families will have to find alternative sources of food.
According to Nevada Department of Agriculture Director Jennifer Ott, schools and organizations operating these federal child nutrition program sites served almost four million meals between March 15 and May 22.
Food banks around the state have observed increased need for their services since March and don’t expect that need to abate any time soon, but school districts require federal extensions from the U.S. Department of Agriculture in order to continue operating meal sites over the summer.
The following counties have closed school meal sites as of June 3:
- Carson City School District
- Douglas County School District
- Lincoln County School District
- Lyon County School District
- Mineral County School District
In addition, Humboldt County School District plans to close its school meal sites June 8, and Nye County sites will close June 30.
In Lincoln County, once school meal sites closed on May 21, families that were using them were not provided with any alternative meal sources, but in many other counties students and their parents are being pointed to the local Boys and Girls Club or other organizations that are taking over service.
The Nevada Department of Agriculture runs a summer meal program every year for students, allowing them to access nutritious food once schools close for the year. There is no application process for the program and partnering organizations are required to provide meals to any child age 2-18.
But as a result of COVID-19, fewer organizations throughout the state are able to participate in the program this year. In 2019, the department operated 360 locations during the summer, serving more than 110,000 meals per week, but in 2020 they only expect to operate 180 locations.
This year, some of those locations will serve meals to families as well as children. In addition, school districts in multiple counties will continue to run their meal sites through the summer.
Churchill County, Clark County, Elko County, and Washoe County will continue operating throughout the summer months. Additionally, Storey County students will have access to meals provided at Washoe County sites as they have since March.
The status of meal sites in Esmeralda County, Eureka County, Lander County, Pershing County, and White Pine County is unclear.
The Nevada Independent’s resource guide provides a full, updated list of school and summer meal services available in each county.