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Universal free lunch program ends, free school supplies continue
Sue Scott

A waiver from the federal government that allowed all students to receive free meals at school during the pandemic has ended. That means the TSC must charge for breakfast and lunch. However, families who meet the household and income guidelines, may be eligible for reduced or free lunch if they apply. In addition, the TSC will continue to use federal funds to purchase school supplies for all students in kindergarten through eighth grade.

The price for breakfast will be $1.40 and lunch $2.40 in grades kindergarten through fifth grade and $2.50 for grades six through 12. The cost of breakfast is up 25 cents, which is the first increase since the 2008-09 school year. The 50 cent increase for lunch is the first increase since the 2014-15 school year. Director of Nutrition Services Lori Shofroth Cords says the increase is minimal considering inflation, fuel costs, supply chain disruptions and labor shortages.

“We are required by law to seek bids each year for our food, bread, produce, milk and other items,” says Shofroth Cords. “This year there was a 12-20% increase in food. The increase is similar to what we are seeing at grocery stores or restaurants. Nutrition Services must pay for food, labor and supplies just like a restaurant.”

Families are encouraged to fill out an application for free or reduced lunch when registration opens the afternoon of July 11. Any family currently receiving assistance such as SNAP (food stamps), medicare will be notified before the application process begins. Families will not need to fill out the application if they are notified by the TSC Nutrition Services Department. Students who receive free or reduced meals will also qualify for assistance with curricular material fees.

Boxes filled with pencils, crayons, glue and other items will be provided for all K-8 students again this year. The program funded through ESSER (Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Fund) started a couple years ago to help families during the pandemic and will continue being funded through the school corporation. Every child in elementary and middle school will have his or her own set of school supplies when they arrive at school in August.

box of school supplies