“With the USDA’s free meals waiver for public school food service programs expiring … it’s crucial that our families complete the meal benefits application for the upcoming school year,” said Lakota spokeswoman Betsy Fuller.
“Regardless of whether or not a family previously qualified for this program, applications must be completed on an annual basis,” she said.
Maintaining proper nutrition for school students is crucial, said Elizabeth Beadle, spokeswoman for Middletown Schools, and its importance dwarfs most other school-related issues.
“All children deserve access to food so they can come to class focused and fueled for the day,” said Beadle.
In the last decade, even prior to COVID-19′s onset in March 2020, increasing numbers of schools have used federal and state monies to expand their offerings of schools meals, often through partnerships with local food pantries, churches and other community organizations.
Some area districts, including Middletown, Fairfield and Hamilton, have also created summer meal programs for eligible students where district-owned food trucks deliver hot meals during lunch hours.
“In Middletown Schools, no child goes hungry thanks to the district’s participation in the free and reduced lunch program,” said Beadle, cited the USDA’s household income guidelines, which categorize the city population as having enough low-income families to allow 100% eligibility.
As a result, no Middletown school families have to sign up their school-age children.
Middletown is the only school district in Butler County with 100% eligibility.
“All Middletown schools qualify for free and reduced lunch and breakfast, regardless of a student’s economic status,” she said.
Area school officials urge school parents and guardians to check with their local public school district websites for more information of the meal programs and how to sign up prior to the start of classes, which begin mid-to-late August for most local districts.