‘It’s a real plus’: USDA to provide free meals to students through next summer

SPOKANE, Wash. – Students in grades K-12 will continue to get free lunch until next summer, the U.S. Department of Agriculture announced. The USDA is extending the free lunch program through June 2022.

Spokane Public Schools welcomes that news, since nearly 60 percent of its students get free or reduced-lunch prices.

With some parents struggling with money through the pandemic, this is another weight off their shoulders. Up to 12 million kids currently live in homes where they may not have enough to eat during the pandemic, the USDA said.

“We’ll be able to help support those communities that might not be in school, but might be still struggling if this helps save their family budget, or provides some nutrition,” said Doug Wardell, the director of nutrition services with SPS. “It’s a real plus, a very positive thing for school, education and childhood nutrition.”

Normally, there are applications for families to apply for free or reduced price lunches. While that’s not required this time around, Wardell encourages families to fill out that application anyways. He says there are other benefits families and schools can get in applying, if their income is below the poverty line.