20210827-LOC-School Lunch

Local public schools will continue offering free meals to students this year, regardless of need, thanks to the extension of a federal waiver that has expanded food access during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture announced in April that it would continue providing all schools with the flexibility to fund free meals through June 2022. And with the new academic year starting next week, Monadnock Region districts are reminding families who are income-eligible for free and reduced meals to still submit an application, even though these meals are currently available to all students regardless of income.

“We are so happy to be able to offer this resource to all of our students for another year,” ConVal School District Superintendent Kimberly Rizzo Saunders said this week in a news release from the district. “Even though meals will be available to students regardless of qualification status, I cannot stress enough how important it is for parents to fill out an application. Doing so allows families to determine if they are eligible for a number of other significant benefits.”

The state and federal governments use the number of students enrolled in free and reduced meal programs to help determine which school districts receive additional funding. Last year, Monadnock Regional School District Superintendent Lisa Witte said a drop in the number of families submitting these applications affected the district’s budgeting process.

In a letter to families this week, Witte wrote families do not need to submit any paperwork to receive free meals this year.

“However, if a student would normally qualify for free or reduced lunch, it is vitally important that parents complete online or paper forms as soon as possible,” she wrote.

Families should contact their children’s school district with any questions about school meals.

Jack Rooney can be reached at 352-1234, extension 1404, or jrooney@keenesentinel.com. Follow him on Twitter @RooneyReports.