Virginia budget to provide more than 60K students with free school meals

Published: Jul. 11, 2022 at 4:45 PM EDT
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CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (WVIR) - Virginia’s new budget includes funding that will keep more students fed while in school.

The commonwealth is expanding free breakfasts and lunches. This comes after the federal government also passed the Keep Kids Fed Act.

“This funding will mean that Virginia will cover the cost of meals for those kids whose families meet that income criteria,” Sarah Steely said . “That money doesn’t have to come out of the family’s pocket,”

Steely is with No Kid Hungry, which advocates for more funding to provide meals for children.

“$8.2 million to eliminate the reduced price meals category. So that is the category for families whose incomes fall between 130% and 185% of the federal poverty line. And so this funding will mean that Virginia will cover the cost of meals for those kids whose families meet that income criteria,” Steely said.

This affects roughly 70,000 students across Virginia.

National waivers for free school meals that were in place since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic expired June 30.

“The fact that Virginia stepped up and said, ‘We see this relief coming to an end at the national level and we want to still help our kids and families during this difficult time,’ I think, that’s pretty amazing,” Steely said.

Steely says many anticipated the economy would be in a better place by now.

“It feels like things are getting harder with the rising cost of food, the rising cost of gas, the rising cost of housing. So I think this is some much-needed relief, continued relief for families during this difficult time,” she said.

No Kid Hungry says the best thing to do locally is to reach out to food banks or school nutrition departments.

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