TEXAS, USA — Nearly all Texas school districts adopted the free lunch program for students in 2020 after the implementation of the federal pandemic relief funding.
Now the funding is no longer available and schools are pulling back from free lunches, requiring parents to once again sign their children up for free or reduced meals. Students are also preparing for the adjustment.
“Now with inflation, parents need all the money they can get. With some people, not getting enough money is one big thing. It was really helpful because I didn't have to worry like, 'Oh, did my mom give me money for today?,'” sixth grader Josiah Robles said.
The San Angelo Independent School District announced it will be transitioning back to application requirements for free and reduced lunches with a full price meal reaching up to $3.
On the other hand, West Texas school districts including Abilene ISD will continue offering free meals to its students, thanks to the community eligibility provision. Kandace Grenwelge, AISD Director of Student Nutrition, said Abilene ISD saw an increase of at least 35% more students eating school lunch because of the free option.
“Every April, all of the districts fill out a report that says that to see if they qualify for the community eligibility provision. That's based on your direct certified students for SNAP as well as foster and homeless kids. We were actually high enough with the percentage of students that we were able to do in the CEP,” Grenwelge said
Sonora ISD has free and reduced lunches for specific grade levels.
“My pre-K through sixth grade is CEP (community eligibility provision). So they get free breakfast and free lunch. My high school, seven through 12, have to do an application to receive either free, reduced or payment,” Sonora ISD Nutrition Supervision Jill Hazelton said.
In order for a student to receive free or reduced-priced meals, they and their families need to meet certain criteria and complete an application on the districts' website.