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School District Five students will receive free breakfast and lunch for the entire 2021-2022 school

Irmo, SC 05/04/2021 – The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced universal free lunches for all students has been extended through the 2021-2022 school year. This unprecedented move is part of USDA’s unwavering commitment to ensuring all children across America have access to nutritious food as the nation recovers from the COVID-19 pandemic.

This waiver extension means that all students in Lexington-Richland School District Five will receive free breakfast and lunch next school year regardless of their income.

“The importance of school meals has never been as clear to me as it is now due to the pandemic,” said Todd Bedenbaugh, School District Five Executive Director of Operations. “For most students throughout the country, we have learned school meals may be the only food they receive during the day. We are excited that the USDA has extended free meals for all students for another year.”

Schools nationwide will be allowed to serve meals through USDA’s National School Lunch Program Seamless Summer Option (SSO), which is typically only available during the summer months. This option maintains the nutrition standards of the standard school meal programs – including a strong emphasis on providing fruits and vegetables, fluid milk, whole grains, and sensible calorie levels, while allowing schools to serve free meals to all children. In addition, schools that choose this option will receive higher-than-normal meal reimbursements for every meal they serve, which will support them in serving the most nutritious meals possible while managing increased costs associated with pandemic-related operational and supply chain challenges. This option also affords schools the financial flexibility to further customize their meal service design to fit their local needs.

“USDA will remain relentless in ensuring our nation’s children get the critical nutrition they need,” said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. “States and districts wanted waivers extended to plan for safe reopening in the fall. USDA answered the call to help America’s schools and childcare institutions serve high quality meals while being responsive to their local needs as children safely return to their regular routines. This action also increases the reimbursement rate to school meal operators so they can serve healthy foods to our kids. It’s a win-win for kids, parents and schools.”

Parents also can continue to load money to their student’s online account to pay for additional ala carte items, beyond the free meal. To make a payment online, register your student(s) at or call the Department of Student Nutrition with any questions or concerns at 803-476-8153 or 803-476-8154.


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