GOOCHLAND, Va. (WRIC) — Goochland County Public Schools announced Thursday that universal free school meals would be ending as federal funding for the program expires.
The county will still provide free meals for students who qualify for reduced-price meals, paid for using state funding, but the end of the pandemic-related federal funding significantly reduced the scope of the program.
“We were very appreciative of the funds that enabled us to offer every child in the division free school meals,” Lisa Landrum, director of school nutrition services, said. “Students are more successful in the classroom when they are well-fed, and, while the universal federal funding is no longer available, we will be able to use the additional state funding to ensure students in need are provided breakfast and lunch at no cost.”
The state funding will allow the school division to continue providing free meals to some students for the next two years, although the funding was not enough to continue the universal free lunch program in place for the last two years.
During the 2021-2022 school year, for example, the division received $1.4 million in federal funding, ultimately serving over 220,000 lunches and 110,000 breakfasts. It’s unclear how much state funding the county will receive this year, because the state will reimburse the county for meals served after the fact.
Free and reduced meals are typically available to students who:
- Live in households that receive SNAP or TANF
- Live in foster homes
- Live in households that receive WIC
Free and reduced meals are also available to households that meet income requirements laid out in the table below:
Under the program now in place, students who qualify for reduced-price meals will continue to receive free meals.