INDEPENDENCE, Mo. — Over the last two years, through the pandemic, all students in Kansas, Missouri and across the country could receive free lunches. But that ends this summer. 

Families will have to go back to completing free and reduced-price meal applications for the 2022-2023 school year. 

Congress didn’t extend the wavier providing free breakfast and lunch for all students. That waiver expires June 30.

“Initial reaction was, we need to communicate with families so that they understand the repercussions with this,” Independence School District Superintendent Dr. Dale Herl said, “and also we need to provide them with the applications so that they can get enrolled in the free and reduced lunches if they qualify.”

Through a program unrelated to the waivers, several Kansas City-area school districts, like Independence and Kansas City, Kansas, Public Schools, will still offer free meals throughout the summer. 

“With our summer feeding program, we have students within the ISD that can come in and receive a free meal, and that extends beyond our students,” Herl said. “So anyone who is wanting to get a free meal can go to one of our eligible sites, and they can that meal within our schools.”

Herl said before the pandemic, about 70% of students in the district relied on free and reduced meals.

“The free meals are very helpful to our families. It provides that safety and lifeline to some of our families,” Herl said. “So that’s why it’s so important for us to communicate that they are going away for next year.”

Independence School District’s online application for free and reduced lunch goes live July 18. You can also call the office for a paper copy.

KCK Public School parents can submit meal applications starting July 8. Lunch charges will be based off eligibility. However, all KCK students will still receive free breakfast. 

In North Kansas City, only 16 schools in the district are offering free meals this June; the rest have returned to regular breakfast and lunch prices. Then like other districts, families will have to apply for free and reduced lunches for next school year.

In Johnson County, the Shawnee Mission School District said after July 1, families can apply for free or reduced meals via the 2022-2023 enrollment process or at School Cafe.  

Regardless of what school your children attend, visit your district’s website for more information on how to apply for the free and reduced lunch program.

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