Free meals will be available for all school kids through the end of this school year, after the federal government announced it is extending the plan beyond the initial end date of Dec. 31.

The action was taken by the U.S. Department of Agriculture to ensure student access to nutritious food during the pandemic.

The free meals are available whether a student is attending school in person or remotely.

Grand Forks high school students, who come to school for face-to-face learning on alternate days, may pick up meals at their school on their at-home days.

The extension of the free meals waiver, announced recently by U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue, is an unprecedented move that reflects the USDA’s “unwavering commitment to ensuring all children have access to nutritious food as the nation recovers from the COVID-19 pandemic,” according to a government news release.

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“As our nation recovers and reopens, we want to ensure that children continue to receive the nutritious breakfasts and lunches they count on during the school year wherever they are and however they are learning,” Perdue said.

“We are grateful for the heroic efforts by our school food service professionals who are consistently serving healthy meals to kids during these trying times, and we know they need maximum flexibility right now,” he said.

Until this recent USDA action was taken, the free meals had been set to expire Dec. 31. The new flexibilities waiver will provide no-cost meals to all children at more than 90,000 sites across the country through June 30.