School lunch won’t be free for many this year. Here’s how to find out if you qualify

Some districts including SAISD and Southside ISD will have free meals at all campuses

File photo: School cafeteria lunch

SAN ANTONIO – The COVID era has brought a lot of unwelcomed changes for schools and parents, but there was one perk that many families enjoyed — free school meals for all.

Thanks to waivers from the United States Department of Agriculture, parents haven’t had to pay for breakfasts or lunches at school for the last two school years, but that’s changing this school year. The waivers expired this summer so unless a family qualifies for free or reduced-price meals, parents are going to need to send their kids to school with lunch money.

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Depending on your child’s age and school district, the standard cafeteria breakfast could cost between $20 and $40 a month per child and lunch could cost a parent between $40 and $70 a month per child, not counting any additional food items purchased.

With the national waiver expired, families will need to submit an application that public schools will use to determine a child’s eligibility in the National School Lunch (NSLP) and School Breakfast Programs (SBP).

In some cases, an entire campus may qualify for free meals under the Community Eligibility Provision based on the percentage of students on campus who are from low-income families.

If your child attends a CEP school, meals will be free regardless of whether your family personally qualifies as low-income.

So, how do you know? You can check your district’s website for information and to apply. Each district has a number of schools that qualify. Every school in East Central, Edgewood, San Antonio, Southside and South San ISDs qualifies for free meals.

See below for links with information about school meal applications and information from many of the school districts in the San Antonio area.

More back-to-school resources on KSAT.

About the Author

Julie Moreno has worked in local television news for more than 25 years. She came to KSAT as a news producer in 2000. After producing thousands of newscasts, she transitioned to the digital team in 2015. She writes on a wide variety of topics from breaking news to trending stories and manages KSAT’s daily digital content strategy.

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