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Not all students will have access to free school meals: the impacts on US families

Starting this month, your children will not have access to free school lunches as we know them. Understand what you can do to guarantee free meals for your children.

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Understand the consequences on US families and children

cook serving students at a school meal
As of this month, school meals no longer exist as you know them today. Understand. Source: Flickr

In fact, when school starts again in the fall, many children will no longer be entitled to basic school meals. Thus, the program created to help school-age children, Free school meals, reached its maximum date.

Now, the vast majority of families will have to pay for breakfast and lunch for their student children. However, the situation in the country is very different from when we still didn’t know what a pandemic is.

Today, the US struggles to try to contain the highest inflation in at least 40 years. In addition, supply chain and labor issues are still not fully resolved. As if that weren’t enough, we are suffering from high fuel and energy prices.

In effect, this whole scenario made the price of food soar. So, understand what Free school meals were and why it’s being shut down when we need them most.

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Why are free school meals to all students being waived?

White and black children at the table eating a school meal
Many children will no longer have access to free school meals. Understand why. Source: Flickr

At the beginning of the pandemic, the government created a program to provide free meals to all children enrolled in schools across the country. That way, all the little ones had free access to quality breakfast and lunch during the pandemic.

However, this program was of an emergency nature and had a defined end date: July 30th. As that date approached, the possible permanence of the program was being debated on Capitol Hill.

However, resistance was higher, and this program was terminated as per the original deadline. Thus, school lunches in American schools will be distributed in the same way as before the pandemic.

However, if an elementary school student paid $2 for breakfast at Enterprise, Alabama, he will now pay about $2.50. Sure, that 25% increase can become extremely significant for families on a tight budget.

SNAP and EBT Accepted here sign. SNAP and Food Stamps provide nutrition benefits to supplement the budgets of disadvantaged families.

Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP): see if you are eligible

Know the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), the federal program that can guarantee quality food for your family.

What are Biden’s measures on the free school meals subject?

On the eve of the deadline for the free school feeding program, Biden decided to act. However, the earlier decision was not what Stephanie Dillard, director of child nutrition at Enterprise City Schools, had hoped.

Dillard expected the emergency program to remain. However, Biden has just signed the “Keep Kids Fed Act of 2022” document. In fact, the new project guarantees free lunch for millions of children until next year.

However, it is not a universal program. Thus, there will be criteria that will control the access of children and adolescents to free food at school. Furthermore, it is unlikely that a program similar to the previous one will be approved anytime soon.

Mainly because of the cost: the free school lunch would cost around 11 billion to the public coffers.

Which students will still have access to free school meals?

School meal put on a tray (Free school meals)
School meals can be at least 25% more expensive. Understand. Source: Flickr

In fact, the new program appears to primarily serve children from low-income families. However, to apply for the program, you need to go to your child’s school. There, you will fill out an application form with your information.

Then you must wait until you receive the final result of the application (this may take a few days). In some states, beneficiary families of some welfare programs have direct access to the Keep Kids Fed Act of 2022.

In effect, the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), the Food Distribution Program on Indigenous Reservations (FDPIR) and Medicaid are some of them. However, not all states accept being in a wellness program as the sole criterion.

Finally, the recommendation is that you sign up as soon as possible. In times of crisis, it is always good to count on the support of federal aid programs. Click on the link below and learn about the main programs you can use.

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