Free meals for all Ames children this summer but not for all students in the fall as pandemic rules end

·3 min read

Every child in Ames ages 1 to 18 will be able to get free breakfast and lunch this summer through the Ames Community School District at specific locations, but not all of the district's students will be able to continue receiving free meals into the fall.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture issued waivers allowing school districts and community organizations to extend the operation of the Summer Food Service Program, according to a district news release.

That means meals will be available on a first-come, first-served basis at three sites in June and most of July and two sites in August:

  • June 6-30 at Sawyer Elementary School, 4316 Ontario St.

On-site breakfast will be available from 7:45 to 8:15 a.m. and lunch from 11 to 11:30 a.m. Monday through Thursday.

Pick up of three days of grab-and-go meals will be available from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. on Mondays, and pick up of four days of meals to go will be available during the same hours on Thursdays. There will be no to-go service on Thursday, June 30.

  • July 5-21 at Sawyer Elementary

On-site breakfast will be available from 7:45 to 8:15 a.m. and lunch from 11 to 11:30 a.m. Monday through Thursday.

  • June 6-Aug. 12 at the Boys & Girls Clubs of Story County, 210 S Fifth St.

On-site breakfast will be available from 7:30 to 9:30 a.m. and lunch from 11 a.m. to noon Monday through Friday.

  • June 6-Aug. 19 at Camp Canwita, 2807 Duff Ave.

On-site breakfast will be available from 7:30 to 8 a.m. and lunch from 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Monday through Friday.

For subscribers: COVID-era free meals program for Iowa students ends soon, and it will cost families

Not enough Ames students qualify for assistance for a broad program to continue at schools in the fall

The USDA during the COVID-19 pandemic relaxed rules that tied eligibility for free meals to family income and neighborhood poverty levels.

There's a June 30 deadline for those relaxed regulations, however, and Ames district spokesperson Eric Smidt said the percentage of students in Ames who are eligible for free or reduced-price meals does not reach the 62.5% threshold for the district to continue to offer free meals to every student.

Students who qualify for free or reduced-price meals will still receive those services.

A little more than 28% of Ames' students qualify for free or reduced-price lunches, according to state data — and more than 91% of the more than 1,200 students with eligibility specifically qualify for free meals.

The individual school in the district with the highest level of eligibility is Mitchell Elementary, where more than 41% of students qualify for some assistance.

Des Moines Public Schools will offer all its students free lunches starting this fall, but the district appears to be the only one in the Des Moines metro area with such plans.

Phillip Sitter covers education for the Ames Tribune, including Iowa State University and PreK-12 schools in Ames and elsewhere in Story County. Phillip can be reached via email at psitter@gannett.com. He is on Twitter @pslifeisabeauty.

This article originally appeared on Ames Tribune: Free meals available for all Ames children ages 1 to 18 this summer