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Congress approves free lunches for students

Words by Smiley Team

The pandemic shook up most aspects of life, from impacting supply chains and throwing costs of goods out of whack. Now as much of the world returns to relative normalcy, gas prices have skyrocketed while the U.S. inflation rate is the highest its been in 40 years

While most people are feeling that strain in one way or another one place particularly vulnerable to these rising prices is U.S. schools and the students that often rely on school meals to meet their nutritional needs.   

Waivers passed by Congress at the start of the pandemic gave relief from regulations that monitor how, when and who gets school meals but those wavers were set to expire with a stall in legislation until President Biden signed the Keed Kids Fed Act. The House approved Senate changes to a nearly $3 billion plan to extend all pandemic school meal waivers through the summer and supply chain flexibilities and increased federal reimbursements for school through the 2022-23 school year.

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U.S. schools usually offer three price levels for lunches: full-price, reduced-price, and free lunch, depending on the child’s need. The provision at the beginning of COVID made all school lunches free. This new extension will also allow free grab-and-go meals for students that need them.

“The Biden Administration knows that ongoing impacts of supply chain issues and rising food costs continue to be a challenge for many schools and child nutrition operators, and we are thankful for Congress stepping up to ease some of their burdens,” said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. “On our end, this funding boost is yet another step the Administration is taking to ensure every child who needs a meal, gets one. No matter the circumstances, USDA and all our partners must continue collaborating to provide our young ones with the healthy meals they count on.”

The act will also continue waivers on how and where schools can serve food. Before the pandemic schools were limited to places like parks and cafeterias. The free and reduced lunch programs had income requirements, and only families that were at 50% of that income requirement could receive lunch over the summer. 

The school meal waivers allowed for students to grab lunches to-go and or be delivered via school buses.

They also provided flexibility for schools when the supply chain disruptions, since the foods they have access to are constantly changing.

Inspired to Act?

DONATE: No Kids Hungry is a non-profit that works to end child hunger in the United States.

SUPPORT: Look into local food pantries, and donate excess food, particularly non-perishables. Families that don’t have consistent access to food can get some there. 


This article aligns with the following UN SDGs

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