As school begins across the area, say goodbye to the free meal program for all students

USDA food waiver at schools ended July 1st; pre-pandemic rules return at many schools in the area

CHATTANOOGA (WDEF) – Expect a major change at elementary, middle and high schools in the cafeteria.

Every family qualified for the free meal program at schools the last two years because of the pandemic.

Not so any more.

The Department of Agriculture’s food waivers at schools ended July 1st.

Several schools in Hamilton County will still offer free meals to all students.

If you’re not at one of those schools, though, the pre-pandemic rules return.

To know if you qualify, head to your school district’s website.

It’s all income-based.

Each district should have a way to apply on the website, as long as the district participates in the free and reduced-price meal program.

Also, the USDA had a higher reimbursement rate to the districts during the pandemic.

With that gone, school cafeterias will be required to charge more for meals.

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