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.
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.
- East Central ISD - “All schools in ECISD have free breakfast and lunch this year,” a district spokesperson said.
- Edgewood ISD - “Edgewood ISD will continue its policy to operate the Community Eligibility Program (CEP) under the National School Lunch Program and School Breakfast Program for the 2022-2023 school year. Schools qualifying to operate CEP will serve breakfast and lunch to all children at no charge and eliminate the collection of meal applications for free, reduced-price, and paid student meals,” a district spokesperson said. For more information, click here.
- South San ISD - “All SSAISD students will still receive free lunch and breakfast as SSAISD is a 100% CEP district. No parent application needed for student qualification,” a district spokesperson said.