EL PASO, TEXAS — The El Paso Independent School District will begin its Free & Reduced-Price Meal program on Monday Aug. 17 using updated guidelines for food distribution in place because of the COVID-19 pandemic and virtual learning.

Students who qualify to receive either free or reduced-priced breakfast and lunch – or those who wish to buy meals — will continue to receive meals at distribution centers on every campus in the District.

EPISD said parents will be allowed to pick up the meals for children following a one-time verification process at the beginning of the year.

“Virtual learning means we will distribute take-home meals for students who qualify for them, but it also means we will be implementing new guidelines for parents and students to follow as they pick up their meals,” said Laura Duran, EPISD’s Director of Food & Nutrition Services. “The most important one is the verification process that will guarantee that those students who are eligible for meals will receive them.”

The District will verify eligibility and distribute meals from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. starting on Monday, Aug. 17 and through Wednesday, Aug. 19.

After that, lunch and next-day breakfast distribution will happen from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Monday through Friday.

The one-time verification for eligible students will happen during the first week of school at the schools.

EPISD Food Services employees will verify that eligible students are enrolled in school, and then provide parents with cards that will be used to ease the meal pick-up service through the virtual learning period, officials said.

Because of federal rules, parents must pick up meals for their children at the school in which they’re enrolled.

If parents have children in more than one campus, the meals for each child must be picked up at the student’s respective school, EPISD officials said.

Parents of students enrolled in magnet or specialty programs may ask for a waiver to pick-up meals to their nearest school.

To obtain the waiver, email the name of student, address, telephone number and the specialty program/school to fns@episd.org.