School meal program changes are coming for some Alaskan schools
ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - Universal free meals at school will not be available to every student this upcoming school year.
Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, federal waivers allowed all students to receive free meals without having to apply. In June, Congress passed the Keep Kids Fed Act, which extended waivers for the pandemic lunch program but reverted many of the programs back to require applications in order to determine student eligibility.
Schools with an enrollment of 40% or more who are considered low-income students will be able to provide breakfast and lunch at no charge through the Community Eligible Provision (CEP) while students at other schools will need to apply for free or discounted meals. Alaska Department of Education and Early Development Child Nutrition Program Manager Jo Dawson said that about half of the state’s schools qualify for the program, while the other half receive applications for assistance.
“That will be a big transition coming up for families with this new school year to either pay for the school meals, apply for school meals, something they haven’t had to do in quite some time,” Dawson said.
While the needs of districts around the state vary, the Kenai Peninsula Borough School District reported over the past two and half years under the universal free meal program they served 400-500 additional breakfasts and 1,000 more lunches daily. This upcoming school year, KPBSD has three schools that qualify for CEP with 110 students.
“We saw a big increase in breakfast participation during the last two years in both elementary and secondary schools,” KPBSD Student Nutrition Supervisor Diane Buchanan wrote in an email. “I do not see this continuing when students are required to pay.”
Parents wondering about their student’s meal status can reach out to the local school district they attend to see if they are eligible.
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