Free school lunches could end for some students

VIDEO: Free school lunch waivers expire in June
Published: Mar. 24, 2022 at 5:12 PM EDT
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(WFSB) - Free meals could soon come to an end for some students.

School officials are asking the federal government to extend a group of pandemic-related waivers that made it easier to get more meals to more students.

Right now, those waivers are set to expire at the end of June.

Not only did these waivers open up free lunches for everyone, but they also made it easier to get those meals to kids during the summer.

All that could change unless there is a change in the next three months.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture first granted these waivers because of the pandemic.

Some people were hoping congress would approve continuing them, but so far that has not happened.

One waiver allows schools to give free lunches to all students and get federal reimbursement.

If this goes away, most schools will only get reimbursements for students who meet income requirements.

A second waiver gives schools flexibility with their menus.

Normally they have to meet nutritional requirements to qualify for federal reimbursement.

But this waiver puts a hold on that.

Third, summer meal programs become easier because schools can let parents take free breakfast and lunch home.

Without the waiver, students must eat those meals on site.

Some opponents have pointed to the potential costs of universal free lunch.

But supporters call that one cost of running schools.

“I really see free meals the same way I see providing books in the library, computers in the computer center, you know other sorts of things that we do to provide children with the tools they need to learn at school,” said Marlene Schwartz, Director of Rudd Center for Food Policy and Health, at UConn.

“They go to school and they don’t have to worry about, oh no, I don’t have money on my card,” said Susan Beal, of East Hampton.

VIDEO: Funding for free school meals in jeopardy