The U.S. Department of Agriculture announced that it is extending access to federal funding that will allow school districts to continue providing free meals through the end of the 2020-21 school year.

Laura Cabe, School Nutrition Director for Jackson County Public Schools,was relieved by the decision, because it removes uncertainty about how the district would sustain the current meal program that serves local families.

“This is great news,” Cabe said. “We are just thrilled to be able to do what we love and what we’re passionate about doing, and that is feeding children.”

Meals are available at no cost to all children age 18 and under regardless of their school enrollment status as well as individuals up to age 21 who have a physical or mental disability. For students who are learning remotely and children who are not enrolled in a public school, family members can pick up prepackaged meals at one of four distribution sites.

Other community organizations such as daycares, charter schools, home schools and private schools who serve children in Jackson County can also participate in the program by contacting the JCPS School Nutrition Department at 586-2311, ext. 1936.

Cabe is also excited to announce that the program has expanded to include weekends.

“We want to reach more families, especially when we’re not in school and students might need meals,” Cabe said.

To receive the additional weekend meals, families must complete an online request form at www.jcpsnc.org/meals or call the School Nutrition Department.