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State pandemic lunch program set to expire

A pandemic-era program that helps provide free school lunch to students is set to expire at the end of the month.
Published: Jun. 22, 2022 at 6:17 PM EDT
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SAGINAW, Mich. (WNEM) - A pandemic-era program that helps provide free school lunch to students is set to expire at the end of the month.

Lawmakers proposes a bill to extend the assistance through September next year, but it has stalled.

Ericka Taylor of the Saginaw Intermediate School District is concerned that some parents will soon have to worry about how to feed their children while in school.

“In light of everything that’s going on right now with the higher prices and gas, the higher prices at the grocery store. This will definitely be an added burden to our families,” Taylor said.

The pandemic-era federal waiver that provided free meals to all students, regardless of their economic status, ends on June 30.

“I would hope that the people who have that decision making power would think about the predicament that our families are already in and perhaps change the outcome,” Taylor said.

The meal program is typically determined by household size and total income compared with federal eligibility guidelines.

Taylor said families who make a decent living but still struggle to make ends meet will have this added burden which has the potential to affect student performance.

“As an educator, we know that students when they come to school, and when they start their days, if they are full and have been fed for breakfast, and then get that meal for lunch, we know that that helps them within the classroom. It helps them educationally,” Taylor said.

Taylor said the looming expiration date is a burden for schools that have to reach out to families to apply for the program with short notice.

“In the past, sometimes the application is mailed home. Sometimes application is given out during like orientation, student orientation, but honestly, a lot of the families who are in need and who really need to have this submitted. They’re not able to make some of those events,” Taylor said.

According to the state department of education website, a family of four may earn up to $36,000 a year to receive free meals or just over $51,000 to receive meals at a reduced price.