Free school lunches ending soon, new nightmare for families amid inflation

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The waiver that allowed free school meals to be offered will end on June 11.

Photo: John Moore/Getty Images

Two years ago, in the early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent closures, the government approved federal waivers that would allow students free school meals nationwide, regardless of family income.

The school meals program is coming to an end. The exemptions that regulate it will end on June 30which will eliminate a benefit that has helped millions of school children who need it more than ever, say anti-hunger advocates, according to NBC News.

Millions of students could be negatively affected by this, especially as the cost of living rises due to inflation, leaving many families struggling to make ends meet.

If waivers end this month as scheduled, experts foresee a crisis as families, already facing skyrocketing prices at supermarkets, gas stations and elsewhere, they will lose access to the school lunches their children have relied on for the past two years.

They urge Congress to approve an extension

The Department of Agriculture (USDA) authority to issue fee waivers for school lunches was expected to was extended for another year by President Joe Biden.

But the expansion of the school meals program was not included in the general spending bill passed by Congress.

POLITICO reported that Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and other Republicans opposed extending funding for school meals because of its roughly $11 billion cost; a McConnell aide denied that to NBC News, saying there was never a proposal he turned down.

The USDA urged Congress to pass an extension of the free school meals program.

“Without congressional action, our tools to help program operators are much more limited. USDA is looking at every tool at its disposal to ease the burden the pandemic has placed on school districts, but the magnitude of this problem requires action by Congress,” the USDA said in a statement.

What can students from families with financial difficulties do?

Students whose families are struggling financially will need to apply for free or reduced-price meals through the National School Lunch Program (NSLP) from the USDA, which, before the waivers, provided free or reduced-price lunches to 29.6 million children, according to Newsweek.

The program provides free meals to students from households whose income is at or below 130% of the federal poverty line.

Students from households with income between 130-185% of the federal poverty line can receive a reduced-price lunch.

It may interest you:

– During the summer, children and youth can enjoy free lunches and snacks in Los Angeles County parks
– Due to problems in the supply chain, American schools limit their lunches
– California will have the largest free school lunch program in the United States

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