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Free meals for all students at school ends: Pandemic-era stipulation expires and now parents are back on the hook

Get ready to pay up for school lunch.

When kids head back to school in a matter of days, families are going to see a cost that many forgot about during the coronavirus pandemic.

Districts across the U.S. were given a waiver to give free lunch to all students regardless of income during the pandemic.

Those waivers expired in June.

Now, parents or guardians will have to apply for free or reduced-price lunch based on income.

Supporters of free lunch programs say that the difficulty is in getting families signed-up. There’s paperwork involved, and oftentimes, legwork for the parents to ensure their kids get free or reduced lunch if they qualify.

The pandemic-era program simplified things.

A family of four with an income up to $34,450 would qualify for free school meals. A family of four with an income up to $49,025 would qualify for reduced price meals.

Other states, like California, Maine, and Vermont have announced they’ll continue offering universal free school meals.