Free School Lunches To End For Some Arizona Students
Many Arizona state elementary schools and high schools have been able to offer free school lunches for students since the return to in-person learning.
The universal free school meal program was introduced in March 2020 when the pandemic began. Even with students not on campus in the spring of 2020, schools offered drive up, free lunch pick up options. Once students returned to campus for learning in the Fall of 2020, the free meals program has remained in place.Z
The free breakfast and lunch program is set to expire at the beginning of the new school year as the child nutrition waivers put in place during the COVID-19 pandemic have come to an end. Lunches will remain free for the remainder of this school year.
Unless lawmakers take action, the free breakfast and lunch meals program will only be provided to children of families who meet income eligibility requirements.
The US Department of Agriculture (USDA) reported if the program is left to expire in June, an estimated 10 million children will lose access to free school lunches.
The average cost of a school lunch in Maricopa County is $3.06.
Some districts will be excluded from the change. School districts such as Phoenix Union and Washington Elementary School District will be able to continue to provide free lunches as they are part of separate federal program that provides students free lunches for an additional 1 to 2 years.