Ten million students across the US will be losing their benefits from the National School Lunch Program when it expires on June 30. The program started in 2020 in an effort to provide free lunches during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Many supporters of the program urged Congress to keep the program going. However, Congress did not include the money in the $1.5 trillion spending bill House and Senate lawmakers passed in March 2022.
According to ABC13 News, “Congress decided to cut some temporary pandemic programs after allocating $13.6 billion in aid for Ukraine.”
Families that previously participated in free lunches under this program may have to pay for school lunches starting this summer.
“They should never take these programs away from these kids. Now more money will be spent on groceries in my household that I normally don’t have to worry about,” Wesley Slagle, Bartow County father of four, said.
Slagle added that, “this is ridiculous that these kids have to now pay for lunch at a place they’re being supervised at for almost eight hours a day.”
Many households are on a strict budget and could have to break that due to the program ending. Families of larger sizes that will move into paying for their school lunches will feel the impact on a larger scale.
“The population needs a boost in any way it can get,” Jourdan Loving, a GHC alumnus, said. “Something as simple as parents knowing while they are at work the schools can still provide something so basic shouldn’t be taken away.”
The school nutrition programs help students maintain a much healthier diet for those that may suffer from malnutrition at home.
“Out of all the tax dollars we pay, no child should have to pay for a meal, especially those in need of it,” Cecily Vallengee, a Bartow County mother whose child attends school, said.