Waivers allowing free school lunch for all kids end this summer

Published: Mar. 28, 2022 at 10:32 PM CDT
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CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (KCRG) - Free school lunch for every student is about to be a thing of the past. In 2020, Congress gave the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) the authority to issue waivers that made free school lunches for every kid possible.

With no action from Congress, the waivers are set to expire June 30.

With the cost of food rising along with other goods and services, Ginny Scott, Director of Food and Nutrition for the College Community School District, said there is a chance school meals will go from being free to more expensive than they were before COVID-19. “When the pandemic started, our high school students were paying $3.10 for a lunch, but because of all of the supply chain issues, we’re nervous that we’re going to have to raise our prices by at least a dollar per meal.”

Scott said the cost of some ingredients has doubled. “Beef patties used to be 46 cents a piece and now they’re up over 80 cents a piece. And that’s just the beef patty.”

Abby Hogan has a fourth-grader at Prairie Hill Elementary. She said not having to pay for her kid’s school meals for the past few years has made a difference. “It’s definitely been helpful, especially being a single parent. Any of those kind of breaks, definitely beneficial. To see [free meals] go is sad and scary.”

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