In a break from what’s been happening for the last two years, Poudre School District informed families Friday that school breakfasts and lunches would no longer be free for all in the upcoming school year.
Starting in March 2020 as a response to the pandemic, the US Department of Agriculture gave waivers that allowed school districts to provide meals to all students — whether in school or being picked up during remote learning — for free.
The funding was set to expire in June, but Congress extended it through July. However, the federal funding that allowed for this has not been extended again or renewed, meaning families will again have to pay for lunches, or apply to receive free or reduced cost lunches.
While free school lunches aren’t in the cards for every student this year, Coloradans shouldn’t rule it out in the future. In November, there will be a measure on the ballot statewide that would make free school lunches available for all students. If approved, it would take effect in 2023-24.
But, for now, here’s what to know about PSD’s school breakfasts and lunches.
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How much will meals be in the Poudre School District?
Full-price breakfast at all PSD locations costs $1.50.
Full-price lunch at the elementary level costs $3.15; at the secondary level it costs $3.40.
These prices are slightly increased from the 2019-20 school year, which was the last time students were charged for meals. At that time, breakfast was $1.45 at full price and lunch was $2.85 for elementary students and $3.10 for secondary students.
If you aren’t planning to apply for free lunches and want to purchase meals at the standard price, you can purchase them online using PSD’s SchoolPay platform.
How do I apply for free or reduced lunches in PSD?
Families are able to apply for free or reduced breakfasts and lunches using an online application at https://www.myschoolapps.com/Application or a paper application available at your school or the district’s Child Nutrition Department at 1502 S. Timberline Road.
Families should complete one application per household — they do not need to fill out a different application for each child they want to receive free meals. Applications can be submitted at any time during the school year.
These applications must be completed annually, and information on who is receiving free and reduced meals is confidential. With consent, your application information may be provided to other assistance programs to make applying for those programs easier, according to PSD.
Who qualifies for free meals in Poudre School District?
Children in households that receive benefits through the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, the Food Distribution Program on Indian Reservations or Temporary Assistance for Needy Families through the state are eligible for free meals.
Foster children are also eligible, regardless of whether the foster family is eligible, and children enrolled in the Head Start program are eligible, as well.
Children who meet the national definition of homeless, a runaway or a migrant student are eligible for free meals. Students meeting these definitions are those who do not have a permanent address; are staying in temporary housing, like a hotel, shelter or with another family; relocate with some frequency; or left one family or household to live with another.
Kids who live in a household with an income within the limits of the Federal Income Eligibility Guidelines are also eligible. For households with two people, an annual income of $33,874 or less would allow them to qualify. For households with four people, an annual income of $51,338 or less qualifies. To see qualifying income information for households of different sizes, visit https://www.fns.usda.gov/cn/2022-23-parent-faqs.
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Molly Bohannon covers city education for the Coloradoan. Follow her on Twitter @molboha or contact her at [email protected] Support her work and that of other Coloradoan journalists by purchasing a digital subscription today.