All students attending Shenandoah and Warren public schools can take advantage of the free meals program again next year.

The school systems plan to continue offering breakfasts and lunches to all students at no charge, not just to those who qualify for free or reduced meals.

Warren County Public Schools Assistant Superintendent for Administration George “Buck” Smith explained in a recent interview that the division can extend the program into the 2021-2022 school year thanks to funding through the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

“We’re fortunate that our students will be able to eat breakfast and lunch for free this year,” Smith said.

Almost half of all students in Warren County Public Schools in the 2019-2020 school year qualified for free or reduced-price meals — 44.5% qualified for free meals and 5.08% for reduced-price meals, according to information provided by Shane Goodwin, director of personnel and communications. The numbers were the most recent figures available and accurate through March 2020 when Gov. Ralph Northam ordered schools to close early in an effort to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

Shenandoah County Public Schools also plans to continue providing free meals to all students. School Food Services Supervisor Beverly Polk said the division will offer free meals to students until the school year ends in May.

Community members helped deliver meals for Shenandoah County schools when the year began last fall, Polk said. Some teachers who were off work also volunteered to deliver meals.

“This was just something they wanted to do for food-service and our students,” Polk said.

Then the transportation department “stepped up to the plate” and recruited bus drivers to deliver breakfasts and lunches to locations around the county where parents picked up food, Polk said.

This coming year, Shenandoah County Public Schools will provide meals only on days when school is in session, Polk said. Parents of students ages 18 and younger who are not in school that day can still pick up meals at their school, she added.

Warren County Public Schools still offers its free summer meals program, which offers breakfasts and lunches to children ages 1-18. The program provides seven breakfasts and seven lunches weekly. Participants do not need to be registered with the school division. Children can pick up meals this Wednesday, July 21, July 28 and Aug. 4, either at Skyline High School or at various locations and times along bus routes.

Shenandoah County Public Schools offers the summer program through July 23.

– Contact Alex Bridges at abridges@nvdaily.com