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School lunch switch up in Schuylkill County

With students going back to school, in some cases as soon as next week, administrators are reminding parents of some big changes that are happening in the lunchroom.

POTTSVILLE, Pa. — Schools across Schuylkill County are changing the way cafeterias are run.

For the past two years, school districts like Schuylkill Haven and Pottsville have been able to provide free breakfast and lunch to all students throughout the pandemic thanks to federal funding.

However, the food program is going back to pre pandemic times. Only giving free and reduced school meals to families who qualify.

“The federal waivers that the USDA provided for us during Covid have ended. Thus, families must fill out the applications that we posted on our website,”  said Dr. Sarah Yoder, Pottsville Area Superintendent.

Administrators say qualifying for the free and reduced food program may be easier for families than in previous years.

“More people will qualify based off the income levels, they did increase the income levels based off of what they originally set forth due to inflation,” said  Kim Umphrey, Schuylkill Haven School District Business Manager.

Prior to the pandemic, at least 30% of students benefited from the free and reduced lunch program in the Schuylkill Haven school district alone.

School administrators hope even more families will apply for it after seeing its perks for the past two school years.

“This program is crucial in our community because we do have a lot of need within our students and families. So we urge all families to fill out the applications to ensure that all students are able to learn throughout the day. It's important to have them to start off the day with a free breakfast, get a free lunch to ensure they're ready to focus and ready to learn,” said Dr. Yoder.

The program has made an impact outside of the classroom as well.

“We try to offer hot meals for both everyday as an option. If not, at least they're getting the nutritious meals that are available. And it's very important, especially with the mental health issues going on,” said Umphrey.

Administrations advise families to apply before the first day of school. To see if your student qualifies for free and reduced lunches, visit here

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