School Meal Programs Communications Toolkit

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Oregon Department of Education - Oregon achieves - together

To: Superintendents, Public Information Officers
From: Colt Gill, Director of the Oregon Department of Education
Date: August 18, 2022
Subject: School Meal Programs Communications Toolkit

Dear Superintendents, 

Thank you for serving Oregon’s students and continuing to support them toward a bright and healthy future. As mentioned in a previous correspondence, schools and school districts  returned to standard school meal programs on July 1, 2022 when federal waivers related to COVID-19 ended. 

This means there are several changes in place for meal services as we start the school year, including that schools will require applications for free and reduced price meals, Parent(s)/Guardians will no longer be able to pick up meals on behalf of their children and students must consume their meals on site.

As a reminder, families have not needed to apply for free/reduced-price meals throughout the pandemic due to the federal waivers allowing all students to be served meals at no charge. Additionally, Oregon’s Student Success Act passed in 2019 included initiatives to expand access to no cost meals in public schools that were superseded by COVID waivers but will now go into effect.   

As school districts transition to requiring applications and instituting these other changes, we encourage you to develop a communications and outreach plan in order to:

  • Make sure students and families are aware of these changes.
  • Ensure students have access to the nutritious meals they need. 
  • Offer information about eligibility for federal free and reduced-priced meals. 

Toolkit To Communicate This Change

The Oregon Department of Education Child Nutrition Programs team has developed a School Meal Programs Communications Toolkit, posted to the COVID 19 webpage, to help assist nutrition staff communicate with students and families about the transition. 

  • Included in the toolkit are:
    • talking points, 
    • social media posts, 
    • signage, and 
    • template letters to families. 

I ask that you support your nutrition services staff as they prepare for back to school. Please connect with your staff to ensure they are able to utilize the toolkit and have the support they need to offer vital meal services to students when school begins in the fall. 

Thank you for your continued efforts in supporting your nutrition services staff. 

If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact your district’s assigned Child Nutrition Specialist.