The waiver allowing free lunch in public schools will end this summer

SIOUX CITY (KTIV) — This June 30, the United States Department of Agriculture waiver, which dramatically changed the way school meals are provided across the country, will expire. The waiver, which came into effect in March 2020, currently allows schools to serve free breakfast and lunch to all students.

Without congressional action to authorize the USDA to continue expanding the waivers, they are due to expire at the end of June. This would mark the end of a period of more than two years, during which meals were provided to all students across the country.

Sioux City Community School District Food Services Supervisor Rich Luze says rising costs from inflation could result in higher school lunch prices than before the pandemic.

“It has become a real challenge, the supply chain is still in trouble and continues to have problems. Every day, even as recently as yesterday, we have been informed by some large manufacturers that they are stopping products because they didn’t have enough raw materials or, more importantly, they didn’t have enough staff,” Luze said.

With the waiver ending in June, Luze is encouraging parents to complete free and reduced lunch requests early. The last deadline for the 2022-2023 school year is early October.

CIick here for a direct link to the Iowa Meal Eligibility Application for the Sioux City Community School District.

Before the pandemic, Luze said there were about 60% to 65% of students qualifying for free or reduced lunch in the district.

In SCCSD elementary schools, lunch costs $2.95 per student, middle schools charge $3.30 per student, and district high schools charge $3.40.

Benefits from the Pre-Pandemic Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program also returned on April 1, so food banks across the state of Iowa are preparing for an increase in visitors. You can find the full story here.

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