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Free & reduced school lunch programs resume application requirements in several school districts in Omaha area

Posted at 7:23 PM, Aug 03, 2022
and last updated 2022-08-03 20:23:37-04

OMAHA, Neb. (KMTV) — Lunchtime is often a happy, noisy time at school. And it's been easier on parents during the pandemic.

All students received free meals because of USDA waiver, aimed at making this a little lighter for families.

"It was actually really great because we didn't have to pay for school lunch, she would eat breakfast at school because waking up at 7 in the morning is difficult," Cami Thompson, a Millard Public Schools parent, said.

But on June 30, that waiver ended, and families in most districts will now have to apply for the free or reduced meal programs.

Thompson said that will impact her family.

"Groceries are so much higher right now, and just having that extra cost on top of everything is not going to be fun to deal with," Thompson said.

If you live outside the Omaha Public School District, you will likely pay for school lunch this year, but an application for the free reduced meal program is available.

But school districts including Millard and Westside are encouraging families to apply for the programs ahead of the new school year.

"If the thought even crosses their mind that school lunches and paying for school lunches this year may be a burden, fill out the application, even if you don't, fill out the application," Erin Vik, director of Nutrition Services at Westside Community Schools, said.

Vik expects around a third of students to qualify for free or reduced meals at Westside, but the rest will pay full price.

And, depending on the district, you might see the price per meal raise a little higher too.

"As in the world right now, prices will be a little higher than they were pre-pandemic, a few years ago, we've done that to soften the blow because our prices are so much higher," Vik said.

Vik reminds families that they must fill out a new application for the 2022-2023 school year, even if they've submitted applications in previous years.

Thompson said Millard Public Schools gave her family plenty of notice, and they will make it work by treating lunch the same way that they did, pre-pandemic.

"She wanted to buy a lunch box. We might send her to school with lunch that we make at home instead of always paying for school lunch," Thompson said.

If you are unsure if you qualify for free or reduced meals this year, the requirements, additional information and the application should be available on your specific school district's website.

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