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Pandemic-era free lunch program ends ahead of new school year

The free school lunch program initiated during the pandemic will not return for this school year.

News 12 Staff

Aug 22, 2022, 8:24 PM

Updated 668 days ago

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The free school lunch program initiated during the pandemic will not return for this school year.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s national school lunch program allowed free breakfast and lunch at schools for all students, regardless of income.
Students whose parents' income is low enough will still qualify for free lunch. By law, schools can't withhold a meal from anyone who can't afford to pay.
Some school districts, like Roosevelt and Hempstead, have a large percentage of the student population who are eligible for public benefit programs. However, with inflation and rising food costs, the change comes as many middle class families are still struggling.
Mareza Rivera, of Glen Cove, says her 12-year-old daughter took advantage of free lunch at school.
“It was easy, I didn't have to worry about packing anything,” she says.
Rivera says the help is still needed due to high inflation and soaring food prices.
“Everything is going up, it’s insane. You go to the grocery store to get little things and you're spending $100,” Rivera says. “Those kinds of things, they do help a lot because I don’t have to go crazy grocery shopping.”
Gov. Kathy Hochul says the 75% of students in New York with the greatest need will still have access to free school meals.
A family of four must earn less than $51,338 a year to qualify for the free meal program during the 2022-23 school year in New York.


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