In some schools, lunch is already free for everyone
State Superintendent aims to make school meals free statewide
SNOHOMISH COUNTY — If State Superintendent Chris Reykdal gets state legislation passed for universally free school meals, per a plan he announced last week to ask for $86 million in state earmarks, paying for school lunch could become a thing of the past next fall.
As it stands today, not everyone has to pay for a school lunch. Those who do saw meal prices nudged up again this school year.
In Snohomish, Everett and Monroe, the price of lunch increased by a quarter. In Monroe, breakfasts are now 15 cents more expensive.
Students in a number of Everett schools, though, do not pay for meals. All students at 18 of Everett's 27 schools do not pay for food. These 18 schools qualified for the Community Eligibility Provision under the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), which is applicable if 40% or more of students are in families that qualify for reduced-price lunches.
Snohomish's Central and Emerson elementaries also gives all students free food, as do Frank Wagner Elementary and Leaders in Learning High School in Monroe. Each school qualified for the Community Eligibility Provision.
At schools where meals cost money, students in moderate to low-income families also don't have to pay anything if they sign up for the reduced lunch program each year through their school. An example household of three qualifies if they earn $42,606 or less a year. House Bill 1342 eliminated co-pays for students who qualify for reduced-price lunches.
Some 500,000 of Washington’s 1.1 million students attend schools which utilize the USDA program and already get free meals regardless of income, according to the state superintendent’s office. Another 200,000 or so students at schools outside of the USDA program separately qualify for free meals for low-income households.
There are about 330,000 students who must pay for meals because their household does not qualify for free meals and their school does not qualify for the USDA all-student free meal program.
Area school meal prices:
In Snohomish: K-6: $1.75, Grades 7-12: $3.25
In Monroe: K-5: $3.25, Grades 6-8: $3.50, Grades 9-12: $3.50
In Everett (at schools where students pay): K-6: $3.25, Grades 7-12: $3.50
Meal prices are approved by each school board in concurrence with each district's contracted food service provider.
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