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N.C. kids will eat free every day. Feds extend free school meals through June 2022.
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N.C. kids will eat free every day. Feds extend free school meals through June 2022.

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Guilford County Schools lunch program turns a profi t  (copy)

In this 2013 photo, school cafeteria employee Tavia Brown serves lunches to students at Kiser Middle School in Greensboro. The federal government has extended free school meals through June 2022 because of the pandemic.

RALEIGH — North Carolina public schools can continue serving free breakfasts and lunches to all students next school year.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture recently extended the Child Nutrition Program waiver to allow the nation’s public schools to serve free meals to all children through June 2022.

Guilford County Schools posted on its nutrition program site that the free meals have been extended through June 2022. The Wake County school system emailed families on Thursday to let them know that breakfast and lunch will be available at no cost to students during the 2021-22 school year.

Historically, free school meals are only offered to low-income students. But when the coronavirus pandemic caused many schools to close for in-person instruction in spring 2020, the federal government opened the school meal program to all students.

Even when schools reopened for in-person classes this school year, the waiver for free meals remained in place.

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“It’s critical that our efforts to reopen schools quickly and safely include programs that provide access to free, healthy meals for our most vulnerable students, particularly those whose communities have been hardest hit by the pandemic,” U.S. Education Secretary Miguel Cardona said in a news release.

“This program will ensure more students, regardless of their educational setting, can access free, healthy meals as more schools reopen their doors for in-person learning.”

Even though the school meals will remain free, school systems are asking families who qualify for federally subsidized meals to fill out a meal benefits application. The data from the applications helps schools get funding to provide educational programs to students.

Find out more about the program in Guilford County Schools at www.gcsmeals.com.

Positive account balances will carry forward to the 2022-2023 school year for all returning students.

For questions about meal accounts, or to request a refund, call Debbie Wrenn at 336-370-3266.

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