BEAUMONT, Texas — If you've been relying on free school meals for the last couple years to help keep the kids fed you could end up spending more to fee them in the coming school year.
The "free school meals program" is set to expire this Thursday, June 30, 2022, and could put a strain on some parents and caregivers who might already be struggling making ends meet.
The program started in 2020 as the pandemic began but is coming to a close, leaving an estimated 10 million children without access to free school lunches.
For more than two years, kids in Southeast Texas ate for free no matter what, but that's about to change.
During the pandemic the "Free School Meals Program" was put in place by the federal government to help ease the burden of paying for school breakfast and lunch when many families were struggling.
"Beginning July 1, which starts our new school year, all families that may qualify for free or reduced price meals must fill out or complete a meal application," said Rene Bodden, Child Nutrition Director for the Nederland Independent School District
The waivers in place during the pandemic that allowed all children regardless of family income to receive free lunches will expire on June 30, 2002.
New applications for the next school year are based off income and household size and there's a chart to help guide you on if your child qualifies.
"All of the household members, all of the income and then all of the students there's just one application for the household that needs to be completed said Melissa Nunnelly, Director of Child Nutrition at Port Neches-Groves Independent School District.
Some school districts like Beaumont Independent won't be impacted by the changes.
"Some school districts, they qualify through community eligibility provision or CEP where all of their students get to eat for free," Nunelly said. "That's because they have a large number of free and reduced in the school district that qualifies all of the students to eat for free."
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Unless they qualify for free or reduced lunch this school year children in Southeast Texas will have to pay between $2.25 and $2.75 for a bite to eat.
This does not apply to any summer lunch programs currently in effect and families who are a part of a state assistance program do not need to fill out an application.
If your child does not attend BISD you will need to fill out an application and you will need your student's i.d number