At the April 14 School Board Meeting, Superintendent Kyle Repucci announced that the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) determined that school meals will not be subsidized next year.
The universal free school meal program was initially introduced in March 2020 when the pandemic began. Since the program will be left to expire in June, an estimated 10 million children (nationwide) will lose access to free school meals, according to the USDA.
Repucci stated that because the USDA had been subsidizing meals, Rochester schools have not been providing applications for free or reduced meals, as they were not needed at the time.
“This is a very important piece of information for families to hear now,” said Repucci.
Repucci stressed that these applications will be needed going forward and encouraged Rochester schools to return to sending applications to families.
Prior to the pandemic, meal costs in Rochester were $2.45 for elementary students and $2.95 for secondary students. Meal costs are typically identified annually. Repucci reports that the item is on the School Board agenda for the May meeting.
The American Academy of Pediatrics reports that the long-term consequences of hunger include reduced academic achievement, behavioral issues, and chronic illnesses like diabetes already endemic among American children.
Families seeking an application for free or reduced school meals are encouraged to visit www.rochesterschools.com/page/food-service for an application and additional information.