Area schools extend free meal programs through USDA

Elisabeth Slay
The Shawnee News-Star

Various school districts throughout Pottawatomie County have extended their free summer meal programs for students after receiving permission from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). 

According to Cherity Pennington, Shawnee Public Schools Public Information Officer, schools can continue to provide meals at no cost to anyone 18 and under during the fall months.

“The free meal program will continue until December 31 or until federal funds are depleted,” Pennington said. “This program allows all families with children 18 and under to pick up free food from any convenient SPS school campus during designated meal pickup times on days school is in session.”

Pennington said since the USDA announced the extension more Shawnee High School students completely attending school virtually are taking advantage of the pick up meals. 

While SHS has seen an increase in students using the meal program, Pennington said Pre-K through eighth grade has not increased because students already receive free meals through the USDA Community Eligibility Provision. 

Pennington said students attending school in person are also receiving free meals at their various school sites. 

For more information regarding designated meal pickup times and locations people can visit

In addition to Shawnee, students of Tecumseh Public Schools also receive free meals due to the USDA.

According to an announcement from the Tecumseh Child Nutrition Office, TPS will serve breakfast and lunch for free to all students at all school sites and those who attend school in person will be served at their sites.

“We offer a grab and go for virtual students at Cross Timbers. Due to waiver extensions, we can now provide the grab and go for all children in our district 1 to 18 free of charge,” the announcement said.

The announcement also said the grab and go program will now include breakfast along with lunch Monday through Friday 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. 

The waiver for free meals went into effect Sept. 1 and will continue until Dec. 30 or until funding is gone the announcement said. 

“Parents may pick up meals for their children, we do ask the first time you pick up to complete a form with the students and siblings’ names so we have them for our records,” the announcement said. 

For more information people can contact Cindy Belshe at (405) 598-3739. 

Along with Shawnee and Tecumseh, Dale Public Schools will also serve free meals to students. 

According to DPS Cafeteria Manager Johnny Radford, this also includes grab and go meals such as breakfast and the first slice of pizza which will be offered to middle and high school students. 

Radford said for more information people can call him at (405) 964-5558.