ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. - Over the last two years, the federal government has been paying for all students at public schools to eat at no cost because of the COVID-19 pandemic. On June 30th the USDA waivers that allowed districts to feed students for free ended. So some districts in our area will be returning to pre-pandemic policies when it comes to their lunch programs.
Mark Watson with Orange Co. Public Schools Food & Nutrition Services said, "This year we have 75 schools that are on our national school lunch program, NLSP."
What does that mean to you? That students attending these schools will have to start paying for their meals.
Orange, Seminole and Brevard families will return to paying for meals this school year.
The districts are asking parents to fill out a meal benefits application before the first day of school to see if you qualify for free or reduced lunch.
Even if you’ve filled out an application before – the federal government requires a new application be completed each year to determine household eligibility.
With higher gas prices, grocery bills and inflation everywhere we turn, districts understand families are struggling. Russell Bruhn of Brevard Public Schools, explains, "Our prices remain the same as they were in 2019. Being responsible with our money, our food and nutrition team did not have to raise the cost of a school lunch for the upcoming school year in order to cover the cost that we incurred."
There are some districts in our area that have been able to continue to provide free meals for students with other funding. Some of those districts include: Marion, Lake and Volusia. Brevard Public Schools will still be offering free breakfast to all students, regardless of status.