School Meals No Longer Free for All in 2022-23



Weakley County Schools Communications Director

WEAKLEY COUNTY (May 24) - Weakley County Schools Nutrition Director Trista Snider has received word that the 2022-23 academic year will mark a return to priced meals in schools.

The Tennessee School Nutrition Program recently issued a notice of operational changes for the upcoming school year. The document stated, “As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) provided waivers to allow all children to eat at no cost through the USDA Seamless Summer Option (SSO) program. Since April 2020, children throughout the United States have been able to eat meals at school at no cost to them. However, USDA no longer has the authority to grant such waivers, and, as such, school meal service will resume through the National School Lunch Program and School Breakfast Program, operating as it did prior to the outbreak of COVID-19 in March 2020.”

Snider explained that with meals no longer available at no cost to all students, parents who believe they are eligible for free or reduced-price meals must submit a household income application. Those applications will be available at school registration in August. She added that these applications also help to determine funding to support student education, technology, and internet access; discounts for fees associated with the college application process; and scholarship opportunities and discounted fees for SAT, ACT and AP tests.

However, a chance to regain the waivers still exists in the form of the New School Meal Waivers Bill referred to as the “Support Kids Not Red Tape Act” and H.R. 6613, Snider noted.

“School meal programs continue to face acute supply chain, labor, and financial challenges. The loss of child nutrition waivers on June 30 will have devastating consequences for these programs and the millions of students who depend on school meals,” she said. “To keep the waivers that have come to mean so much to our children, voters will need to contact your legislators to urge support for bipartisan Senate and House legislation.”