For two years, the U.S. Congress decided to fund breakfasts and lunches for all students regardless of need as part of their national COVID response. That program ended last school year, meaning many students will lose the free meals when classes resume this month.
The federal free and reduced meal program returns to its pre-pandemic standards based on family income. Parents can still apply for reduced-cost lunches, and in some cases, entire schools still are eligible to provide meals at no cost to parents because they meet specific economic criteria.
“If you’re on Medicaid, you’re going to automatically be in the system,” said Cynthia King, child nutrition director of the Columbia-Brazoria ISD. Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program participants also qualify with the submission of an application, she said.
Besides SNAP, literature from C-BISD states children participating in Head Start or Early Head Start and children in foster care are also eligible for free meals.
It also points out that if a parent or guardian has a change in circumstance, they can file for reduced-price lunch at any time during the school year.
“If we get 50 percent free lunch students, the whole school district can eat free,” King said. “If we hit that mark for Medicaid, SNAP and income, they consider us a priority school and we can get free lunch and breakfast for all the campuses.”
She recommends parents apply, regardless of whether they think they qualify.
For information or to apply for assistance, parents should contact their children’s schools directly.
Because of its demographics, every Angleton ISD will be served a free breakfast this school year, new Director of Child Nutrition Amy Grant said. All Angleton elementary students are qualified to receive no-cost lunches, she said.
“Our elementary schools are participating in what’s called a Community Eligibility Program, CEP,” Grant said, “and it is based on socio-economic indicators that allow us in the district to provide free breakfast and lunch by using federal reimbursement funds.”
Lunches have been set at $2.75 for students attending the junior high and high school.
The majority of the district’s campuses qualify for all students to receive lunches without cost, but not all of them.
No-cost breakfast and lunch will be provided to students at Stephen F. Austin STEM Academy, Freeport Elementary, Madge Griffith Elementary, Elisabet Ney Pre-Kindergarten, T.W. Ogg Elementary, Gladys Polk Elementary, O.M. Roberts Elementary, Velasco Elementary, R. O’Hara Lanier Middle School, Clute Intermediate, Freeport Intermediate, Brazosport High School, Lighthouse Learning Center and Brazos Success Academy, Child Nutrition Director Amy Anderson said.
Brazoswood High School, Lake Jackson Intermediate, Grady Rasco Middle School, Bess Brannen Elementary and A.P. Beutel parents and students will still be responsible for payment. Those who qualify for reduced-price lunches will pay 30 cents for breakfast and 40 cents for lunch. The school has set regular lunch prices at $2.65 for elementary students and $2.95 for students in upper grade levels. Breakfast is a flat $1.45 for all students.
“Parents can still fill out a free and reduced lunch application and qualify based on their income,” Anderson said.
“We will have free breakfast all the way up through each campus from the elementary to the junior high to the high school — all the breakfast will be free,” King said. “We are charging for lunch.”
For those who do not qualify for the reduced-price lunches, the prices have gone up to $2.85 for elementary students and $3.15 for junior high and high school students, she said.
Reduced-price lunches are listed at 40 cents per meal.
“We’ve been putting the applications online and on Facebook. We want to encourage the parents to fill the application out so your kid can eat not only free breakfast, but also free lunch,” King said.
The district has not yet set its prices for the upcoming school year, but plans to do so at its Aug. 15 meeting.
Schools in the district will be transitioning back to requiring applications for free and reduced-price lunches. Parents who wish to apply are urged to contact the campus or go to danburyisd.org.
Child Nutrition Director Sandra Botello estimated just less than half the district’s students probably qualified for free or reduced-price meals.
Those who receive reduced price lunches for the upcoming school year will pay 30 cents per breakfast and 40 cents for lunch.
For those who don’t, the prices have been set at $1.50 per breakfast. For students attending the junior high or high school, the per-lunch price is $2.95. For elementary students, that drops to $2.70.
Botello said there were new ways for parents to apply for help.
“What used to do the application in hard copy format; now we have different methods of doing that through the system, through SchoolCafe, for quicker approval,” Botello said.
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