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Eastern Carolinians react as national free lunch bill is set to end

Published: May. 31, 2022 at 7:33 PM EDT
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GREENVILLE, N.C. (WITN) - A federal program providing free lunches in the United States is set to expire on June 30th.

The current bill that has allowed students to eat for free is soon coming to an end.

During the pandemic, the program gave relief to many families.

The future of the program for schools is undecided and staff members are concerned about the well-being of the students that they feed on a daily basis.

“My kids come through and they have no worry about giving me money or paying for their food and a lot of them are not going to be able to pay for their food so I’m worried about that,” Dianne Joyner, Wellcome Middle School cafeteria manager said.

For the rest of this school year, students will be able to eat for free. Then, for the first 30 days of the 2022-2023 school year, students will have a grace period before they have to start paying for lunches.

There are backup plans for Congress if the free lunches are discontinued in order to help families and schools pay back any debt they owe.

The Support Kids Not Red Tape Act would give schools and families an additional two summers and the 2022-2023 school year to transition back to normal lunch operations financially. A House bill is also being created in case the initial one doesn’t make it through the Senate.

“Those two waivers are going to help with the extension of the reimbursement rate and the meal plan,” Gretchen Wilson, Pitt County Schools school nutrition director said.

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