South Dakota Department of Education returns to free and reduced lunch program

Published: Aug. 30, 2022 at 7:40 PM MDT
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RAPID CITY, S.D. (KEVN) - Federal waivers that gave school districts the ability to provide all students with free lunches recently ended, and now districts like the Rapid City Area Schools are going back to a free or reduced lunch program.

According to the South Dakota Department of Education, children from families whose income is at or below the income guidelines are eligible for free or reduced-price meals at their school district.

The effective guidelines for income eligibility for free or reduced lunch for the 2022 to 2023...
The effective guidelines for income eligibility for free or reduced lunch for the 2022 to 2023 school year.(Food and Nutrition Service U.S. Department of Agriculture)

With the program coming back, Nicole Swigart, RCAS assistant superintendent, wants to remind families, that along with the free or reduced lunch program there is also a possibility that certain schools throughout the district qualify for free lunches for the entire building based on the number of students that are eligible for free or reduced lunches.

Students not eating is a concern that some teachers say might become a bigger issue, especially for students who relied on the free meals.

“It’s a really big concern of mine as we go into the school year because kids are going to come in and they are going to be hungry, and so by the time, 11:30 a.m. hits they’re going to be starving because they didn’t have breakfast. Then on top of that, lunch, is something that some families might not be able to afford,” said Jesse Sporrer, an RCAS teacher.

As the school year progresses, teachers are hopeful that families will use the program to ensure their child’s success in the classroom.

RCAS also confirms that qualifying for free and reduced lunch also includes free and reduced breakfast for students that need it.

The South Dakota Department of Education states that households currently on the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program or Temporary Assistance for Needy Families are automatically eligible for free meals and should not need to complete an application.

If you have any questions regarding the free or reduced lunch program with the RCAS you can call 605-394-4061 or go to the RCAS website.