CENTRE COUNTY, Pa. (WTAJ) — For the past two years, all students, regardless of their family’s income, received free school lunch, thanks to a pandemic-era waiver.

That waiver expired on July 1, and now local districts are left to navigate pricing.

“There’s going to be some parents that now have to find money to buy their kid’s lunches,” Douglas Dyke with the Bald Eagle Area School District said.

For Bald Eagle students, a full-price lunch costs about $3.

In 2019-2020, about 40% of their students applied and qualified for free or reduced lunch. The district is asking families to check their current status and fill out an application by October 11.

Dyke said receiving free or reduced lunch helps the district qualify for certain grants and programs.

“There shouldn’t be any embarrassment,” Dyke said. “You don’t walk around with a ticket when I was in school and everybody knew who was getting free and reduced lunches. They just type in your five-digit code.”

With the end of federally funded lunches, some states including Maine, Michigan, and California took funding into their own hands. The State College Area School District (SCASD) said they took inspiration from them.

On Monday night, the school board approved grant funding that allows reduced lunch students to receive those meals for free.

“We don’t have the resources to fund free meals for everyone, but we are able to use a grant that we received from Giant Food Stores to pay for meals for reduced eligible families,” Megan Schaper, SCASD food services director and president of the School Nutrition Association of Pennsylvania said.  “I’ve found that families who qualify for reduced price meals are often the ones who are really struggling financially.  Given inflation that we are all experiencing, I am excited that we can help these families out.”

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Also on Monday, the Saint Mary’s Area School Board approved free lunches for all K-12 students with the support of internal funding.

As each district is different, parents and caregivers are encouraged to check-in with your area’s school to see what is offered.