Editorial: A temporary solution on school lunches should be permanent

Editorial: A temporary solution on school lunches should be permanent

Video Transcript

- This is a KCCI editorial.

BRIAN SATHER: A recent announcement from the US Department of Agriculture has parents cheering. Free school lunches are extended for another school year. The free lunch program was first introduced in response to the pandemic, a way to help struggling families. While schools were shut down, parents could pick up free meals for their kids without having to prove they needed them. What started as a Band-Aid solution could heal some much larger wounds.

Normally, students whose families make 185% of the federal poverty level can receive lunches for free or reduced prices, but the paperwork to get that help could be a roadblock. School districts often are stuck in the middle. Generally they don't get enough federal funding to cover the costs of providing the free meals, so they're left trying to collect lunch money from those who owe. You've probably seen stories on social media of kids being shamed or given different meals as an incentive to get their parents to pay up. Reimbursing schools for every meal, not just for those who meet a federal benchmark, makes it easier on schools, parents, and most importantly, kids.

The Department of Agriculture led by former Iowa governor Tom Vilsack has done what it can, at least for another year. But now it's up to Congress to make this a permanent solution. Look, we realize there's no such thing as a free lunch. It will cost taxpayers. But we believe our kids are worth the investment so they don't have to worry about whether they eat or how to pay for it.

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