Several school districts continue free lunches after federal pandemic program ends

SOUTHERN OREGON, Ore. – As students head back to school in the next few weeks, some local students may not get free lunches anymore.

This will be the first time in two years some students will no longer receive free school lunches after a federal pandemic-era program ended.

But for most students in our region the program is still in place.

The Grants Pass and Phoenix-Talent school districts says every student will continue to eat free.

Both districts qualify due to the number of students who applied for free and reduced lunches.

The Ashland School District will not be giving out free lunches anymore thanks to the federal program.

Now it’ll be determined on if you qualify individually.

The Medford School District will continue to provide lunches for each student thanks to the “Community Eligibility Provision.”

“Because of the growth of that program, that CEP program, community eligibility provision, we’re able to provide lunches at all of our locations this coming school year for free,” assistant superintendent at Medford School District Brad Earl said. “And that’s a four year commitment.”

In the Central Point School District, four schools will not have free lunches school-wide while six will have lunches covered.

Despite not having district-wide free lunches, Central Point said they are happy to continue to give out lunches to the six schools who qualified.

“We love serving all the kids for free,” director of food and nutrition services Anne Leavens said. “And we really wish that was still a possibility. Unfortunately it’s not. Those six schools have the most wonderful benefit. Our team loves it. It’s easy to service them, it’s the best feeling.”

The four schools who don’t qualify include; Mae Richardson Elementary, Scenic Middle School, Crater High School of Business Innovation Science and Crater School of Health and Public Services.

Parents can find out if their child qualifies for free and reduced lunches by visiting your school’s food services website.

Districts also ask that parents check with their child’s school to see if there are any changes to the free lunch program this year.

NBC5 News reporter Zachary Larsen grew up in Surprise, Arizona. He graduated from Arizona State University's Walter Cronkite School of Journalism. At ASU, Zack interned at Arizona Sports 98.7FM and Softball America. During his Junior year, Zack joined the ASU Sports Bureau. He covered the Fiesta Bowl, the Phoenix Open and major basketball tournaments. Zack enjoys working out, creative writing, music, and rooting for his ASU Sun Devils.
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