End of universal free lunch across the Atlanta metro area

Parents across the Atlanta metro area are feeling the pinch with the end of the universal free lunch program. The federal program provided free or reduced lunches for all school students regardless of income. The program, which started earlier in the pandemic, wasn’t extended by Congress for this school year.

Henry County parent Mary Otiz has two children who are affected by the end of the program.  She told Channel 2 that her husband is the sole income earner for the family.

Ortiz’s husband earns just above the current maximum to qualify for reduced lunches, causing then to lose eligibility for free or reduced lunches.

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The roughly $40 the family will now need to pay a week will affect their them tremendously.

“It’s not happy. it doesn’t make me happy. it just makes me think about a little more struggle for our family”, said Ortiz.  “That was very helpful and I think it shouldn’t end just because there are some families that struggle a little more than others, and that helps a lot.”


According to the Atlanta Community Food Bank, food pantries across the metro area will likely see an increase in need. The statistics show one in 10 families is in need of food or is food insecure; and for children, the number is one in seven.

Parents whose kids still qualify for the program based on income will need to fill out the necessary paperwork with their school as proof of need.

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