Dallas, Texas – All students nationwide, regardless of their financial status, were eligible for free meals in schools as a part of the early Covid-19 pandemic measures, but that is now going to change because Congress opted not to renew waivers. For the upcoming school year, Dallas ISD will continue to offer free meals for all of its students, something that the school district has been doing since 2013, but several of the North Texas school districts require parents to apply for free meals for their children.
As soon as the Congress decided not to renew waivers, parents across the country were outraged because having to pay for food in schools comes at the worst possible time when rising inflation has a huge negative impact on average-income families’ monthly budgets and more and more people are in need of financial help.
Days before the pandemic-era child nutrition waivers were set to end, President Joe Biden signed a law extending some food assistance measures for children that anti-hunger advocates have called critical as more parents struggle with the rising costs of inflation. However, free meals for all children are now a thing of the past.
In recent weeks, several North Texas school districts, including Fort Worth ISD, Arlington ISD, Allen ISD and Richardson ISD posted notices telling parents that they must apply for free and reduced cost meals. A family of 4 making less than $60,000 before taxes can qualify in some situations.
Parents are also advised that even if they don’t initially qualify for free meals, they can directly contact the school districts and ask for an exception.
Dr. Bob Sanborn, president and CEO of the non-profit Children at Risk, explained that the children’s ability to learn would be affected in the case of inappropriate nutrition. That’s why he encourages parents to ask school districts for free meals for their children in case paying for school meals causes financial problems for their families.