Thousands more Arizona students will qualify for free school meals in January

File photo of school lunch.
File photo of school lunch.(clear)
Published: Dec. 16, 2022 at 11:38 AM MST
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PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) -- Some parents feeling the squeeze from inflation will get at least a bit of relief in the new year. All Arizona students receiving subsidized school meals will get them for free when they come back from winter break.

Outgoing Arizona Superintendent of Public Instruction Kathy Hoffman announced this week that $6.75 million of COVID relief money will be used to fund the program through the rest of this year and all of the next school year.

As it stands, kids in a family of four with a household income of less than $36,075 already receive free breakfast and lunch. Those with an income of 36,075 to $51,338 received reduced-price meals. These are the kids and parents who will benefit from these dollars.

“We’re really thrilled about what that does for child food insecurity and what that does for making sure they have access to healthy meals at schools. They won’t have to go to the nurse. There are a variety of benefits for kids eating school meals,” said Angie Rodgers from the Arizona Food Bank Network.

Rodgers said her organization partnered with ASU to study the impact free lunches had on students. During the pandemic, meals were free for all kids. She said the findings were overwhelmingly positive.

“We did an opinion study looking at how parents feel about this, how school administrators feel about this, and how does the public feel about this.  More than 90 percent of people across Arizona said this is an important investment we need to make to make sure kids get fed at school and many of them believe all kids should be fed at school for free,” she said.

Rodgers says universal free lunches are something her organization is working on. This latest effort is expected to provide 2.2 million free meals to low-income students.