Guidelines have been relaxed for the sack lunch and breakfast food program Hastings Public Schools will be operating starting March 19, and as a result the children and youth for whom the food is intended won’t need to be present at the pick-up site, HPS Superintendent Jeff Schneider announced Thursday.

The “grab and go” meals, which include a sack lunch and breakfast items for the following day, will be available from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Monday through Friday at Hastings High School, 1100 W. 14th St.; Hastings Middle School, 201 N. Marian Road; Alcott Elementary, 313 N. Cedar Ave.; and Lincoln Elementary, 720 S. Franklin Ave.

The meals are for anyone age 18 and under, and those receiving meals don’t need to be HPS students. But HPS is running the program, and had to apply to the Department of Education to get the program off the ground.

As of Wednesday, HPS was informing the public that under guidelines from the Department of Education and the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the young people to receive the food must be present at the pick-up site. But the guidelines have been relaxed since that time, Schneider said.

Food insecurity for children and families is a major concern in the Hastings Public School District, where a high percentage of students qualify for free or reduced-price school meals.

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