Joplin families asked to complete free, reduced-rate meal applications

·2 min read

Jul. 25—Because the National School Lunch Program waiver that provided free school meals for all students since the beginning of the pandemic hasn't been renewed for the upcoming academic year, parents in the Joplin School District are encouraged to apply now for free or reduced-rate lunches.

Students without an updated meal application on file will pay full price for lunches, which are $1.90 at the early childhood center and all elementary schools, $2.05 at the middle schools and $2.25 at Joplin High School. Reduced-rate lunches will cost 40 cents each.

"There have been a lot of changes to our local and regional economy over the past three years," said Rick Kenkel, Joplin's nutrition services director, in a statement. "Even if your family didn't qualify for free or reduced meals previously, there's a chance you could do so now, and we want to be sure we capture that availability as quickly as possible for the new school year."

Historically, about 60% of Joplin students have qualified for free or reduced-rate meals. Knowing that can affect a number of other programs, administrators said.

"These applications help us track a baseline measurement of levels of economic deprivation across our district and in our individual schools," said Jordan Dickey, executive director of student services, in a statement. "Those measurements, in turn, determine how much federal funding we're eligible to receive for staffing purposes, grant accessibility and program needs. The results of free and reduced applications really are vital."

Applications for free or reduced-rate lunches are available online at schoolcafe.com. Families also can request paper forms through the district's nutrition services warehouse, 1420 Broadway, or at their student's school.

For help with form completion, call 417-625-5315.

The district will continue to provide free breakfast to all students.