The state’s pandemic lunch program will expire

SAGINAW, Mich. (WNEM) – A pandemic-era program that helps provide free school meals to students is due to expire at the end of the month.

Lawmakers are proposing a bill to extend aid until September next year, but it has stalled.

Ericka Taylor of the Saginaw Middle School District worries that some parents will soon have to worry about how to feed their children while they’re in school.

“In light of everything going on right now with higher gas prices and higher grocery prices. It will definitely be an added burden on our families,” Taylor said.

The pandemic-era federal waiver that offered free meals to all students, regardless of economic status, ends June 30.

“I hope the people who have that decision-making power will reflect on the predicament our families are already in and maybe change the outcome,” Taylor said.

The meal plan is generally determined by household size and total income against federal eligibility guidelines.

Taylor said families who earn a decent living but still struggle to make ends meet will have that added burden that has the potential to affect student performance.

“As educators, we know that students, when they come to school and start their day, if they are full and have had breakfast, then eat that meal for breakfast. lunch, we know it helps them in the classroom. . It helps them educationally,” Taylor said.

Taylor said the impending expiration date is a burden on schools, which must contact families to apply for the program on short notice.

“In the past, the application was sometimes mailed home. Sometimes the application is distributed during orientation, student orientation, but honestly, a lot of families who need it and really need to submit it. They’re not able to do some of those events,” Taylor said.

According to the state Department of Education website, a family of four can earn up to $36,000 a year to receive free meals or just over $51,000 to receive discounted meals. .

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