The $1.5 trillion spending bill that Congress passed and Joe Biden signed into law on March 11 did not include funding to extend free school lunches to children. Next fall, schools are expected to return to the three-tier system of payment for lunch in which some families receive free lunch, some families pay a reduced price, and others pay full price.
According to Superintendent Justin Downes of the Milbank School District, the prices students will pay for lunch and the income levels for each of the three groups have not yet been released by the federal government, but he wants parents to be aware of the change and give them time to prepare before classes resume in August. Free lunches will continue to be offered to Milbank students at the school until June 30.
Universal free school meal programs were introduced in March 2020. The USDA granted waivers for schools to offer free lunches at no cost to the students through the National School Lunch Program’s Seamless Summer Option (SSO). The waivers were extended to include the regular school year and then renewed several times. The waivers are now set to expire on June 30.