‘The economy has really put a burden on people’: Parents struggling to pay for school lunch

Published: Aug. 9, 2022 at 5:52 PM EDT|Updated: Aug. 9, 2022 at 5:53 PM EDT
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SAVANNAH, Ga. (WTOC) - As a single parent, Diane Hall has taken care of Jaylin Parish since she was a baby. Last week Jaylin started her first day of kindergarten in the Savannah Chatham County school system.

“To find out that I had to pay three dollars for lunch, it was very surprising to me.”

For two years lunch has been free across America, thanks to federal COVID relief. While COVID is still a concern, that’s a benefit Hall missed out on since the relief ended two months ago.

After being denied for free or reduced lunch for Jaylin.

“For the first day of lunch, she had a lunchable, three dollars for a lunchable, not a cooked meal.”

The Director of School Nutrition Onetha Bonaparte says the district usually serves hot meals

“Those are certain circumstances that really are out of our control. If we serve that meal. But normally, we have a hot meal everyday,” Director of School Nutrition Onetha Bonaparte said.

Regardless if kids get hot or cold meal, Hall is upset about the qualification process to receive free or reduced lunch. Right now it’s based off income and how many people are living in your household.

“They should consider your other obligations your other bills and especially now that we’re in a situation were everything is sky high,” Hall says.

As they process applications for the free or reduced lunch, they refer to this federal eligibility income chart that’s on the application for the free or reduced lunch. This chart is created by the USDA.

“We have no control over the income eligibility. You know I wish I could say that we could lump in the utilities that we pay or the car notes that we pay or the insurance but that’s just not the case,” Bonaparte says.

“The economy has really put a burden on people and then on top of that burden having to pay for lunch,” Hall said.

Something hall believes should be free for all kids.

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