By Matt de Simone
Last year, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced universal free lunch for all students during the COVID-19 pandemic. The effort brought relief to many families struggling through the lockdown.
As students prepare to head back to public schools next month, the USDA announced last spring that the extension of the universal free lunch would continue through the 2021-22 school year.
According to the School Nutrition Association (SNA), students nationwide pay an average of $2.63 per lunch. Over the 180 instructional days required by the state, parents spend over $400 on school lunches per school year based on the average.
There are over 1.25 million students in Virginia’s public schools. According to the Virginia Poverty Law Center, over 460,000 students participated in free and reduced-price school meals before the pandemic struck the nation.
Families eligible for free or reduced-price lunches but choose not to participate will not have to worry about budgeting for the students’ school lunches, ensuring all Botetourt County students won’t go hungry during the school day.