Stacie Light, director of school food and nutrition for Warsaw Community Schools, posted a letter to parents informing the community that changes would be made to the school meals program, which is funded by the Department of Agriculture of the United States (USDA).

Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, school corporations across the country have been operating with the use of a federal waiver that allows them to feed every child for free until the end of this school year. Use of this waiver will no longer be available after this school year and businesses will revert to traditional eligibility requirements for free, reduced and paid meals. This means that for the 2022-23 school year, WCS will process applications for free and discounted meal benefits, according to a WCS press release.

The Department of Food Services has the ability to directly certify students who receive SNAP, TANF, some Medicaid, are certified as homeless, migrants, or wards of the state (adoptive children). Households found to be directly certified will be notified in writing of the free or reduced price meal status prior to the start of school and will not need to complete an application. Meal benefit requests will not be available until July 1. Requests received before July 1 will not be effective for the 2022-23 school year.

Households are encouraged to apply before the start of the school year to avoid unpaid meal costs. Students who are not approved for free or reduced-price meal benefits before the start of the school year will be classified as paying status and meal charges may begin accruing from the first day of school. Meal expenses accrued prior to approval of a meal allowance claim will be the responsibility of the household. Parents do not need to complete an application if they receive notification that their child(ren) are directly certified, if they know their household is not eligible for meal benefits. Parents are asked to ensure that they have money in their child’s account on the first day of school.

Applications and more information can be found at https://wcsfoodandnutrition.org.