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USDA Waiver to End, Meal Charges to Return in the Fall

In May 2021, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced an extension to an existing waiver that has allowed West Fargo Public Schools to serve free meals to all students for the duration of the 2021 – 2022 school year. Now, we have received confirmation that the waiver and its free school meal benefits are set to expire at the end of the school year, resulting in the return of full priced meals for the coming school year.

What does this mean for families?

In the fall of 2022, families need to pay full price for student meals or submit an application with the National School Lunch Program to qualify for free or reduced meals. The 2022 – 2023 application for free or reduced meals will become available on July 1, 2022.

The cost for next year’s meals will be determined over the summer and communicated to families via email, as well as listed in school newsletters and on the Food Service Department website. Meal prices prior to the waiver were between $1.35 – $1.55 per breakfast and $2.45 - $2.70 per lunch; anticipated costs for 2022 – 2023 would be similar, or slightly higher, than these rates.

About the National School Lunch Program

The National School Lunch Program provides nutritionally balanced, reduced-cost or free meals to children each school day. The program is managed by the USDA. All children in households receiving benefits from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), the Food Distribution Program on Indian Reservations (FDPIR), or the Temporary Assistance Program for Needy Families (TANF) can get free meals regardless of their family’s income. Also, children can get free or reduced-price meals if their household income is within the limits on the Federal Income Chart.

West Fargo Public Schools encourages all families to complete the free/reduced meal application, as the federal program provides more than just meals:

  • School Funding: The amount of funding the district receives is dependent on our rate of free/reduced students, as is our eligibility for additional grant funding. Ensuring our free/reduced rate is an accurate representation of our district is vital in providing a valuable education.
  • School Meals: Most commonly associated with the free/reduced application is the opportunity to receive free or discounted school meals for children. Eligibility is based on family size and income.
  • Activities: Families enrolled in the federal free/reduced meals program are eligible for fee waivers associated with student activities.
  • College Applications: Families enrolled in the federal free/reduced meal program are eligible for fee waivers associated with the college application process at select universities.
  • Standardized Tests: Families enrolled in the federal free/reduced meal program are eligible for fee waivers associated with national standardized tests (ACT, SAT, and AP Exams).

Please look for additional details about this change to be communicated with families via email, social media, and in school newsletters in the coming months.

Dana Rieth
(701) 356-2000