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Families tackle paying for school meals once again

Families now have to pay for school meals for the first time in roughly two years, after the Department of Agriculture's pandemic era program expired.

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School meals have been free for students for the past two years, but that is no longer the case as school resumes.
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FARGO — With the end of the USDA's meal program, which provided meals to all students around the country, families are once again responsible for paying for their child's school meals.

"All of our students are affected by this 100%. This wasn't something that they've had to deal with or even think about for the last two, three years," said Ashley Schneider, director of Food & Nutrition Services for Moorhead Area Public Schools. "And now, all of a sudden, it is a burden on all of our families. No matter whether they can afford it or not."

For the 7,427 students in the Moorhead Area Public Schools, school lunches costs roughly $412 per year per student. With that added cost, and adding in breakfast for some, it could break the bank.

"Having to go back and try and budget it, it's very hard for families, it's very hard as a district too, to not be able to offer that. We definitely have kiddos that will struggle with food insecurities, and that breaks our hearts," Schneider said.

While the National School Lunch Program still exists, it has strict income requirements. In Minnesota and North Dakota, the maximum household income for a family of four to receive reduced meals is $51,338.

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To receive free meals, it's much less, at $36,075.

To submit an application, or look at the various requirements for the National School Lunch Program, visit: https://www.fns.usda.gov/cn/fr-021622

Families in Minnesota can apply for Educational Benefits, including free meals, and other technology and testing resources, by reaching out to their school district.

Ben Morris joined WDAY in June of 2021 as a news reporter. He grew up in southern New Hampshire, before he moved to Fargo. He majored in media communications and minored in marketing at the University of Toledo in Ohio.
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