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As school year begins, free and reduced-price meal policy is no longer for all students

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Delaware.gov
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Delaware schools return to the pre-pandemic free and reduced-price meal policy for the upcoming school year.

The past two years special provision waivers from the U.S. Department of Agriculture allowed schools to feed all students breakfast and lunch free of charge.

Now, parents once again must submit individual applications for students who qualify to be part of the free or reduced meal program.

DOE’s education associate for nutrition programs Aimee Beam says both school districts and DOE are working to make families aware.

"Having to go back to this process and we haven't had to do it for 2 years certainly could be a challenge,” said Beam. “Our school districts as well as Department of Education are putting out messaging to families. They've already sent out Meal Benefit Forms, letters to households just informing them of the importance of filling out the Meal Benefit Form, and so we certainly hope to get as many forms back as possible."

Beam notes several schools participate in a program that will still supply free breakfast and lunch to all students.

"We have about half of the schools that participate in a School Nutrition Program will be participating in the Community Eligibility Provision this year which is not a new program. It's something that our schools have been participating in for many years," said Beam.

If your school participates in that program you don’t have to apply for free and reduced-price meals.

If you haven’t received a Meal Benefit Form, you can call your school or district nutrition office to get a copy, and many districts have online applications.

Joe brings over 20 years of experience in news and radio to Delaware Public Media and the All Things Considered host position. He joined DPM in November 2019 as a reporter and fill-in ATC host after six years as a reporter and anchor at commercial radio stations in New Castle and Sussex Counties.