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USDA extends free school lunch for all students to June 2022

As schools closed during the pandemic, the USDA eased restrictions so schools could distribute meals to all students at pick-up and drop-off locations.

NEW YORK — Schools can continue serving free meals to all students through June 2022 under more flexible rules that began during the pandemic.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture says it’s offering alternative meal pick-up options and the ability to serve meals in non-group settings. The flexibilities are intended to give schools a degree of certainty as they plan for the school year ahead, said U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack.

The USDA’s national school meal programs have long been a vital source of free and low-cost food for students. Families normally need to meet income requirements to qualify for free breakfasts and lunches. But as schools closed during the pandemic, the USDA eased restrictions so schools could distribute meals to all students at pick-up and drop-off locations.

To help schools get back to meeting the nutrition guidelines, the USDA says it is boosting the amount schools are reimbursed for each meal served.