MCPS resumes free meal program


Jocelyn Mintz

Amid the pandemic, MCPS will distribute free meals on weekdays. See below for details on times and locations of distribution.

By Vishnu Dandi

Montgomery County Public Schools reinstated the distribution of free meals to students September 8. The decision comes almost two weeks after MCPS ended the program, which the U.S. Department of Agriculture had extended through the end of the 2019-2020 school year. 

When schools closed in mid-March due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, MCPS provided free meals to students through a government waiver program and a nationwide expansion of pre-existing food centers. According to county officials, MCPS distributed more than four million student meals from the time of the pandemic-related closure to the end of summer.  

MCPS ended the meal program on August 26, and in the week and a half following the decision, schools were unable to provide for dependent children. Subsequently, MCPS announced that they would revert to “a more traditional food service program” due to a lack  of federal waivers. 

In the new model of food distribution, standard pricing replaced free meals and only children enrolled in MCPS were eligible for meal service. However, students in the Free and Reduced-price Meals program, commonly referred to as FARMS, would not see a change in expenses. 

Several students felt that such wide-sweeping changes were likely to exacerbate people’s financial burdens in a pandemic.

  “During this crisis, the last thing any parent should have to worry about is if they can provide food for their children,” sophomore Jusin Yang said. 

On September 4, MCPS Director of Communications Gboyinde Onijala announced that free meal distribution would resume and the USDA renewed MCPS’s waiver. Unlike the former model, MCPS’s new program will provide free meals to every child or student on site, Onijala said. 

School buses will now serve food at four different apartment complexes around the county on weekdays from 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., with the exception of Thursdays. Student identification will not be required to receive food, but names will be written down. 

“I am glad that MCPS is resuming free meal distribution,” Whitman parent Kanisha Weerakoon said. “This county has a responsibility to reduce the financial burden placed upon disadvantaged families, especially during these uncertain times.”  


School Bus Service Sites:

11:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.

Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday (double meals) and Friday at the following locations:

Pembridge/Amherst Apartments

Nob Hill Apartments

Woodmont Apartments

Forest Park Apartments

Wednesdays only:

12 – 1 p.m.

Crossroads Farmers’ Market