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CCISD Child Nutrition Department stirs up healthy meals for returning students

Special to Leader-Press 

Copperas Cove ISD Child Nutrition Department staff continue to heat up cafeteria kitchens as they wind down their summer feeding program and prepare for the return of students to school on August 16.
CCISD Director of Child Nutrition and Warehouse Services Melissa Bryan said the staff is involved in back-to-school training as regulations normalize following two years of a pandemic.
“Having utilized waivers offered by the USDA the last two years, some of our staff have never worked when waivers were not being used,” Bryan said. “Processing free and reduced meal applications and charging for meals, it takes a little extra training to make sure all staff understand what the regulations are now. It is also very important for us to also make sure parents know that meal cost will be based on student eligibility and will no longer be free for all.”
Prior to the pandemic, 61 percent of the households in CCISD qualified for free and reduced meals. In the 2021-2022 school year, CCISD was not required to use eligibility as all meals were provided free due to the USDA waiver. Most households did not compete a meal application and the percentage in the district dropped to 45 percent. Many households completed the free/reduced school meal applications to possibly qualify for additional government funds. 
“So now, we are pushing hard to get the word out that we need households to go online at and complete the application for the 2022-2023 school year,” Bryan said. “We know the need is great as we have watched the meal counts climb over the last few school years. We have continued to prepare meals according to regulations even though the pandemic and supply chain issues had us scrambling many days,” Bryan said. “We still expect many supply issues for this school year, but we will continue to face those challenges head on and day by day. No matter the challenges, our mission to feed the kids a healthy breakfast and lunch has never wavered.”

Martin Walker Elementary Cafeteria Manager Jogenia Agsaoay that she is excited for the start of school and see the students’ excitement when they come to the cafeteria and see their favorite foods on trays. 
“It feels good when kids try something new and they tell you the food was amazing or their favorite,” Agsaoay said. 
“It has been proven for years that academic success is tied to kids having meals so they can continue to sit in class and concentrate and learn,” Bryan said. “When you look hungry children in the eyes and know that you have fed them and served them a healthy, nutritious meal, it is a wonderful thing.”

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