Arizona K-12 public school students get free breakfast, lunch this school year

Jul 23, 2021, 4:35 AM
(AP Photo/Jae C. Hong) Follow @GriseldaZetino...
(AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)
(AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)

PHOENIX — As Arizona schools prepare to welcome students back to class, parents won’t need to pack them a lunch.

That’s because all K-12 public school students 18 and younger nationwide, regardless of income, will get free breakfast and lunch this school year. It’s thanks to the U.S. Department of Agriculture continuing to reimburse schools for meals.

“We’re really excited about it,” Sabrina Kvavle, director of food and nutrition at Mesa Public Schools, told KTAR News 92.3 FM. “It really takes away a lot of stigma for children.”

USDA started offering meal waivers last school year to ensure all students have access to nutritious food during the coronavirus pandemic. The waivers have been extended through June 30, 2022.

Kvavle said the waivers had a big impact last school year and helped some schools in the district meet an increased demand for meals.

“We had a large increase for breakfast at some schools,” she said. “An elementary school that might perhaps only serve about 60 breakfasts was serving over 200.”

School districts and charters have started making parents aware of the free meals their kids will have access to this school year. They’re also encouraging parents to still submit a school meal application for free or reduced-price meal benefits.

The information may be used to see if students qualify for other programs, including the Pandemic EBT program that offers families additional food assistance.

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Arizona K-12 public school students get free breakfast, lunch this school year