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Charine Archer receives food from Clark County School District Food Service Department workers on Wednesday morning, August 26, 2020 at John R Hummel Elementary School in Las Vegas. (Daniel Clark/The Nevada Independent)

The two largest school districts in Nevada are providing free meals to all children as of Tuesday, regardless of enrollment or eligibility for the free and reduced price meals program, and parents who have already paid will be getting that money back.

The Washoe County School District (WCSD) began providing free meals on Sept. 29, joining the Clark County School District (CCSD), which has been participating since Sept. 9. Both counties had been providing free meals throughout the summer, but had not received waivers from the U.S. Department of Agriculture allowing that service to continue when the school year resumed. 

The USDA announced Aug. 31 that the waivers would be made available nationwide.

Under the National School Lunch Program, students could only receive free meals if they applied and were found to be eligible and all students and parents had to present identification at meal sites before purchasing that day’s meals.

Clark County did provide free breakfasts to all students, and some schools in both districts were “provision schools” which provided free meals to all students with valid identification, regardless of individual eligibility.

The waivers are available to all schools nationwide that operate Summer Food Service Program or Seamless Summer Option sites. Both districts are now taking advantage of the waivers, which allow them to serve all children ages 2-18 through Dec. 31. 

While WCSD Superintendent Kristen McNeill indicated that the district is looking to extend that through the end of the 2020/2021 school year, officials from CCSD did not confirm if the Southern Nevada district is looking to do the same.

Students and families in both Washoe and Clark counties are receiving refunds for any meals purchased since Sept. 1, when the new waivers went into effect. WCSD is just beginning the manual refund process, but CCSD says parents in the district have already been receiving their refunds.

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