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Free school lunches for all set to end, creating ‘perfect storm’ amid high inflation

Free school lunches for all set to end, creating ‘perfect storm’ amid high inflation

A federal waiver that made school breakfasts and lunches free to students regardless of their family’s income is set to expire June 30.

A federal waiver that made school breakfasts and lunches free to students regardless of their family’s income is set to expire June 30, eliminating a benefit that has helped millions of schoolchildren at a time when they need it more than ever, anti-hunger advocates say.

The free school meals program began in March 2020 when Congress authorized the U.S. Department of Agriculture to issue dozens of child nutrition waivers, including ones that expanded summer food programs, to provide a lifeline during the pandemic.

If the waivers end this month as scheduled, experts foresee a crisis as families, already facing soaring prices at supermarkets, gas stations and elsewhere, lose access to meals that their children have counted on for the last two years.

Childcare expert says end of free meal program will be “apocalyptic”June 5, 202203:15The cafeterias that serve students, meanwhile, are already running into obstacles: Supply chain interruptions have driven up the cost of their foods dramatically and made it difficult for them to comply with the strict meal requirements set forth by the USDA. The waivers gave them flexibility to provide nutritious meals using substitutions without penalties.

“School meal programs are facing a perfect storm,” said Diane Pratt-Heavner, spokesperson for the School Nutrition Association, a trade organization representing more than 50,000 school nutrition employees. 

https://www.nbcnews.com/news/us-news/free-school-lunches-set-end-creating-perfect-storm-high-inflation-rcna33688


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