Schools say American kids are hungry
America’s schools say kids are hungry — just as pandemic-era benefit programs have lapsed. There is growing concern about the effects on kids’ ability to learn.
Congress temporarily made school meals free to all American schoolkids, but since that ended last fall, the need has only seemed to grow.
Soaring food prices are adding strains on families who are seeing reductions in multiple kinds of financial assistance. One federal program that ends this month had given nearly 30 million Americans extra food stamps during the pandemic.
School cafeterias typically don’t turn away a hungry kid, but debts for unpaid school meals have been rising — showing the level of need, and raising questions about how schools will keep feeding everyone, without federal money to do it. The neediest kids are eligible for free or reduced-price meals, as before the pandemic, but qualifying for those benefits requires applications that haven’t been necessary for several years.
“Programs that provide direct food assistance are hugely critical and we are going to see the effects of not having them over the next couple of months,” said Megan Curran, policy director for Columbia University’s Center on Poverty and Social Policy.
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