Photo courtesy EPISD

Starting Monday, El Paso ISD to offer free meals for all children

Officials with the El Paso Independent School District said Friday that new rules from the U.S. Department of Agriculture will allow the district to provide free breakfast and lunch to children ages 1 to 18 starting on Monday, September 21, regardless of their enrollment status or residence in the District.

The new rules also mean that parents with children enrolled in different campuses may now pick up meals at one location instead of traveling to each of the schools in which they’re enrolled.

“We are thankful to the USDA for allowing us to continue to provide healthful meals to any child who may need it,” said Laura Duran, EPISD’s Director of Nutrition Services. “The new rules make our breakfast and lunch services available to thousands of additional students, and it makes the pick-up of take-home meals much more convenient for our busy parents.”

Every EPISD school will have curbside distribution of breakfast and hot lunch meals from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Monday. Please note that curbside schedule may change once in-person instruction begins, although drive-through service will continue for students who are learning virtually.

Meals will be provided for any child ages 1 to 18, and the child need not be a student in EPISD. Children need not be present to receive the meals, however, parents or guardians must present one of the following documents for verification:

  • Official document from any school to demonstrate enrollment.
  • Report card
  • Birth certificate
  • Student ID card

Parents who pick up meals for their children will be given a verification card at a campus and they will be required to pick up all meals at that campus from then on.

Meals for Saturdays and Sundays will be distributed every Friday starting Oct. 2. No meals will be distributed during intersession, holidays or the Thanksgiving Break.

The free meal program will be extended to all EPISD students who attend in-person instruction starting Oct. 1. Students on campus will receive free breakfast and lunch either in the classroom or as a grab-and-go option.

To view updated menus, visit the EPISD Food Services website.

The new USDA allowances will be in place until the end of the fall semester in December. EPISD already has begun the process to seek the extension of the free meal program to the spring semester.

“It is our goal to provide nutritious meals to as many children as possible during these difficult times,” Duran said. “We know the challenges in learning are even more present right because of the pandemic, and we want to eliminate any concern about food that may exist among our families.”

Story by Gustavo Reveles – EPISD