: ‘No child should go hungry during the school day’: Who is still eligible for free school lunches — and how can you apply?

by | Sep 26, 2022 | Stock Market

For the first time in nearly two years, not all school meals in the U.S. will be free. But eligible families can still receive help paying for meals — as long as they turn in the paperwork. The universal school-meal program was part of the federal government’s emergency nutrition relief — a service that was expanded in 2020 to help families get through the worst of the COVID-19 pandemic, when millions of people lost their jobs. It was not renewed for this school year.

Under the program, all children enrolled in public schools received free meals through the National School Lunch Program and the School Breakfast Program. The federal government will continue to provide free school meals to children whose families have an annual income at or below 130% of the federal poverty level. For most states, that translates to an annual salary at or below $34,450 for a family of four.

“‘No child should go hungry during the school day.’”

If a household has an annual income of 130% to 185% of the federal poverty level, the children in that household are eligible for meals at a reduced price of 30 cents for breakfast and 40 cents for lunch. Parents can submit applications at any time during the year, according to the Department of Agriculture. Schools usually inform parents about the application process at the beginning of the school year, and experts recommend that they submit their application as soon as possible.  If parents aren’t sure whether they need to fill out an application, they should ask their school district or school, said Crystal FitzSimons, a program director at the Food Research and Action Center, a nonprofit based in Washington, D.C., that fights poverty-related hunger and lack of nutrition. “I wouldn’t wait to do it,” FitzSimons told MarketWatch. “Because the sooner you’re certified, the better …

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