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NASHVILLE, TN (WSMV) - Metro Schools will be providing breakfast and lunch free of charge to all children 18 and under based on newly released federal guidelines. 

According to a release, MNPS had been offering free breakfast and lunch to children since schools closed in March. Those meals were funded through the Summer Food Service Program; the program ended when schools reopened virtually in August. 

When schools reopened, the National School Lunch Program (the traditional program) took effect, meaning not all students were able to receive free lunch.

Since school started in August, MNPS has been offering breakfast and lunch at all school bus stop locations, free of charge for students at Community Eligibility Provision schools (CEP) and for students on free and reduced lunch programs. 

The Seamless Summer Options program now has new waivers designed to create more flexibility for families by allowing them to choose any site and decrease the amount of information they have to provide to receive meals. 

Due to this new plan, the school district will will be reevaluating bus routes and delivery timings in order to ensure the best efficiencies and opportunities for families to receive meals. The district will also be looking for more opportunities to provide families with multiple days' worth of meals at one time.

“Nutritious meals are essential to effective learning, growth, and development,” said Dr. Adrienne Battle, Director of Metro Schools. “We are grateful that the USDA has removed barriers to accessing meals to allow more students and children throughout Nashville to more easily receive breakfast and lunch.”

As MNPS begins to make the transition to in-person learning in the coming weeks, the waivers should allow students to continue receiving free meals while learning in-person. The waivers are in place until Dec. 31.

MNPS stresses that since the waivers will eventually end, it is important for students who do not attend a CEP school to complete the Free and Reduced Lunch application as soon as possible. 

If approved, they will continue to receive free meals once waivers end. 

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A New York City native and a graduate of the Mizzou School of Journalism, Ethan joined the WSMV Digital Team in June 2019. Send him story ideas, food recommendations and sports topics to Ethan.Illers@wsmv.com and follow him on Twitter @EthanIllers_TV!

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