SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — The start of school in KELOLAND is less than four weeks away for most families.
After two years of free lunches for all kids, school districts are readjusting. Once again parents must fill out the paperwork to qualify for the free or reduced-cost breakfast and lunches.

The federal government is ending free meals that were granted during the pandemic to all students. This means parents must start paying full price or fill out online forms if they feel they could qualify for free or reduced-cost meals.

For example, a school lunch for an elementary school student is $3.05, a reduced price lunch is 40 cents.

Child Nutrition Services Coordinator for the Sioux Falls School District, Gay Anderson says it is important that parents understand the cost.

“For them to be planning to pay for their students meals, they haven’t had to pay for two years and now all of a sudden you are going to be hit with a 66 dollar a month bill for just one child, do you have two or three kids, you can do the math on that,” child nutrition services coordinator, Gay Anderson said.

To help families get through the pandemic, the government made the free meals available to all kids across the country.

Elliot, age 5 and Annabelle who is 9, we’re getting some good summer vacation play time in at Sertoma Park.
Mom Holly Johnson says when they get home to Becker, Minnesota she will be signing her kids up for the school lunch program.

“The government helping with that was very very helpful, especially after the pandemic,” said Johnson.

In Sioux Falls, Anderson says even if parents don’t think they qualify she encourages them to sign up.
And for peace of mind, parents should know that no one will know if their kids are getting the reduced or free school meals.

“Our students who are free and reduced nobody has any idea who is on that process they all have a badge all students are treated the same that you could be free reduced or paid and my staff won’t know unless they happen to tell us,” Anderson said.

The applications can now be found in the Parent Portal, the same place parents can check grades.