The old phrase “there’s no such thing as a free lunch” will once again apply to the majority of students in Evanston/Skokie School District 65.
The federal government had made school meals free of charge for all students, regardless of income, after the COVID-19 pandemic hit in March 2020.
But in a new message, District 65 Superintendent Devon Horton says that a nationwide federal policy change means free school meals for everyone (breakfast and lunch) will no longer be available in 2022-23.
The practice reverts to what it was for decades: free only for low income students, and they must re-apply.
According to District 65 documents, 31% of the system’s roughly 6,800 students were low-income eligible in the school year that just ended.
The district did not say, however, how many students, regardless of income, actually took advantage of the free breakfast and lunch.
Nationally, the average school lunch costs a student about $2.50 if they are paying full price.
Reduced price meals in District 65 are $0.30 for breakfast and $0.40 for lunch.
During this summer, children can get free breakfasts and lunches at several locations around Evanston, from the Parks and Recreation Department. It’s first come-first served, and there are no income restrictions.
Once the next school year starts in August, even if some students will have to start paying for meals, school supplies will still be free for everyone in District 65.
As was done in 2021-22, the superintendent says, “In support of our families, the District will purchase school supplies for all students and have them ready in the classroom on Day 1. There will be no supply lists or fees.”