USDA’s federal waiver for free lunch expires, what does this mean for your kids lunch money?

JACKSONVILLE, Fla — With sales tax holiday going, right now’s a good time for parents to stock up on all the school supplies they’ll need but is there a chance to save on your child’s school lunch?

That’s questionable after the USDA’s federal waiver that allowed kids to get free meals expired almost a month ago. So, what is the cost of your kid’s school lunch going to look like now?

After the federal waivers expired last month public schools across the country have had to cut back on summer meals in an effort to fight inflation. Before its expiration the USDA’s federal waiver let all students for the last two years eat for free regardless of their household’s income.

“Every penny count,” says Vernon.


Days before that President Joe Biden signed The Keep Kids Fed Act. According to The Food Research and Action Center, that makes it possible for schools to afford food. By providing temporary increases in reimbursement rates for school meals. That reimbursement for lunches is $0.40.

“We don’t know what their home atmosphere is like and if they are in need, they can’t concentrate on their schoolwork,” says O’mcQuay.

But for some schools in Florida, it’s not enough. Last month for the first time in 7 years Seminole County announced their lunch price was going up .75 cents. But in Duval, breakfast and lunch remains free. A DCPS spokesperson tells me this is possible through The Community Eligibility Program saying quote.

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“CEP is a school meal funding option of the national school lunch program that enables the district’s nutrition program to provide free breakfasts and lunches to all students, even after pandemic waivers expire. for the 2022-2023 school year, every public school in the district will be part of the cep program, which makes school meals available to all students at no cost.”

“Every kid should have the right to have a free meal. based on the current situation going on in the country, based on high inflation,” says Vernon.

In Clay County free or reduced lunch is still on the table but you’d have to fill out an application to get it. If you qualify your child’s lunch would go from $2.25 to $0.40 cents. Now that would take cutting a check for your kids’ lunch from $45 a month to just $8.

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A St. Johns County representative says their breakfast and lunch prices will not be changing either.

Thankfully hope is on the way for other Florida schools. The U.S. Department of Agriculture Food and Nutrition Services Southeast Regional Office announced today that 23 organizations will be given $1.4 million to fund farm to school projects.

Duval County Public Schools is one of those 23 recipients. Other recipients in Florida include the following:

-Florida Impact, Inc.

-Florida Introduces Physical Activity and Nutrition to Youth

-Happy Goat, Inc.

-Orlando Science Center, Inc.

-Star of the Sea Foundation, Inc.

-Tampa Urban Benefit Farms, Inc.

-The School District of Lee County

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