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Wisconsin schools to offer free meals to students

(Source: WVUE)
Published: Jul. 27, 2021 at 12:06 PM CDT|Updated: Jul. 29, 2021 at 4:05 PM CDT
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correction: The Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction explains the USDA will allow all students to get free meals, without determining family income eligibility. A federal waiver extends the free National School Lunch Seamless Summer Option meal program throughout the 2021-22 school year for participating schools.

MADISON, Wis. (WBAY) - The Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction says most school districts and schools have registered through a federal program to offer free meals to students in the upcoming school year.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) offered a federal waiver, as it did last year, extending the National School Lunch “Seamless Summer Option” meal program through June 30, 2022. In effect, it waives income requirements, so all children are eligible for free meals during the 2021-22 school year without determining a household’s income eligibility.

The DPI says the majority of school districts in Wisconsin have signed up to participate in the Seamless Summer Option program for the upcoming school year.

Normally, families have to fall under certain income limits for their children to qualify for free or reduced-price school lunches, breakfasts and milk programs. Those income guidelines are still in effect for schools and districts signed up for the National School Lunch and School Breakfast programs but do not participate in the Seamless Summer Option. In those schools, children in households earning up to 130% of the federal poverty level can receive free meals, then up to 185% of the poverty level receive discounted meals.

Income guidelines are based on the federal poverty level, which in 2021 is $26,500 for a household of four. That means families earning up to $34,450 per year qualify for free school meals, then up to $49,025 receive reduced-price meals. Click here for a chart of income guidelines for all household sizes.

Summer lunches provided by schools and participating day cares will continue to be free for the remainder of the summer.

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