End of Federal Universal Free Meal Program Affects Hudson Valley Families

Starting a new school year is stressful enough, but now many parents have one more thing to worry about.

For the past two years, free school meals have been made available to all students, regardless of parental income.

The program has been renewed several times, but expired this summer.

After parents fill out an application, children again qualify for either free, reduced or full-pay meals.

Children already make up about half of the food pantry served by People to People, the largest food pantry in Rockland County.

People to People prepares for increased demand for food services.

The state legislature introduced a bill requiring schools to provide free meals, but it has been on the school board since May.

Schools, mostly in low-income areas, can continue to use federal “community eligibility rules” that allow them to provide free meals, just as they did before the pandemic.

Parents should check with individual districts about their options.

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