USDA extends free lunches for all students through 2021-22

Published: Apr. 22, 2021 at 12:38 PM EDT
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RICHMOND, Va. (WDBJ) - The USDA announced it would extend universal free lunch for all students through the 2021-2022 school year, bringing relief to millions of families.

There are 1,252,756 students in Virginia public schools, according to the Virginia Poverty Law Center. Before the COVID-19 pandemic hit, more than 460,000 of them received free or reduced-price lunches every day.

“This one action will not only help feed hundreds of thousands of children throughout the Commonwealth,” said Salaam Bhatti, public benefits attorney at the Virginia Poverty Law Center, “but it will effectively erase school meal debt for one year, improve student’s focus in class and their test scores, and help food insecure students receive at least one meal a day.”

The extension will help families who may have been eligible for free or reduced lunch but did not take part. Thousands of children will not have to go hungry during the school day.

Since 2013, the Virginia Poverty Law Center has been working to advance better school meal policies, having worked with legislators and advocacy partners to secure wins in banning lunch shaming, alternative meals, and suing families for unpaid meal debt.

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