School Districts No Longer Offering Universal Free Lunches

Monday, August 8th 2022, 5:07 pm

Every student in Oklahoma got to eat for free over the past couple of years, thanks to funding from the USDA.

But schools are returning to normal, which means paying for lunch is back.

Amria Davis teaches English at Weleetka High School and was thankful for free school lunches because she knew her kids would have something to eat.

"It just made us feel better knowing that no matter what, they would be fed,” said Davis. “And even when we weren't in school on virtual days, we knew they would be fed because they could come up here and get it."

Before the pandemic led to free lunches, some teachers might have stepped in and paid out of their pocket so their students could have a meal.

"Whereas before if a kid was hungry, we would be like ‘let's just go to the cafeteria, you're late to school, let's get you a breakfast, let's get you to class,”’ said Michelle McCane, a parent and teacher. “And now, I don't have the ability to pay for their breakfast and lunch all the time."

Even though school lunches aren't free for everyone anymore, students can still apply for free or reduced lunch.

Child nutrition experts say it's important for families to sign up if they need help.

"Nutrition is a big part of the educational process, students who come to school hungry cannot learn as well as those who are well-fed and well nourished," said Pat Meadows, the Director of Child Nutrition for Jenks Public Schools.

Davis says she wants her students to know that schools are doing everything they can.

"They're my kids, no matter what,” said Davis. “It just shows us how much we care about them, and we want them to know that we want you here, and we want you safe, and comfortable."

You can apply for free and reduced lunch by reaching out to your school district.

Experts recommend getting this done as soon as you can.


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