KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — Free school meals for all went away this year after federal funding was not renewed, but a group of advocates in Tennessee is reminding families you can still get help.
“School meals are some of the most nutritious meals children will get all day long,” said Marissa Spady, a senior field manager for No Kid Hungry Tennessee.
The COVID-era free school meal waivers expired, and school meal costs returned for families right as inflation hit.
“I think everyone is feeling the crunch and that’s why I think school meals are so important for families who are really feeling the impact of rising costs with pretty much everything,” said Spady.
A national campaign wants to make sure no kid goes hungry. In Tennessee, advocates like Spady are encouraging families to apply for free and reduced-price school meals.
“We just want to make sure that kids have access to those meals so that they can really thrive both in and out of school. If we have hungry kids, they really can’t learn,” said Spady.
Applications are open during the school year. For example, due to unexpected life changes, if a parent becomes unemployed their child may be eligible if their household income drops below the income limit.
Spady believes everyone needs to do their part to end childhood hunger. First, by supporting school food and nutrition services.
All school districts have free and reduced-price meal applications or families can apply online at lunchapplication.com.