A new school year is here, but parents won’t need to pack students a lunch.
All K-12 public school students 18 and younger nationwide, regardless of income, will have access to a daily free breakfast and lunch this school year. The U.S. Department of Agriculture will continue to reimburse schools for meals.
“We’re really excited about it,” Sabrina Kvavle, director of food and nutrition at Mesa Public Schools, recently said. “It really takes away a lot of stigma for children.”
USDA started offering meal waivers last school year to ensure all students have access to nutritious food during the coronavirus pandemic. The waivers have been extended through June 30, 2022.
Kvavle said the waivers had a big impact last school year and helped some schools in the district meet an increased demand for meals.
“We had a large increase for breakfast at some schools,” she said. “An elementary school that might perhaps only serve about 60 breakfasts was serving over 200.”
School districts and charter schools are in the process of informing parents of the free meals their kids will have access to this school year. They’re also encouraging parents to still submit a school meal application for free or reduced-price meal benefits. Students may qualify for additional programs, including the Pandemic EBT program that offers families additional food assistance.