BreakingKZRG NewsLatest NewsLocal InterestsNews Joplin MONewstalk KZRGTrending

Joplin parents urged to apply for free/reduced price meals

Federal waiver expiration to change meal prices for 2022-23

JOPLIN, Mo. – The National School Lunch Program (NSLP) waiver that provided free school meals for all students since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic has not been renewed for the 2022-23 school year. In response to this shift, administrators at Joplin Schools are encouraging parents to act now.

As in pre-pandemic years, families will need to fill out an online application to determine their students’ eligibility for free or reduced price lunches on campus. However, the district will continue to provide free breakfast to all students.

Students without an updated free/reduced meal application on file will pay full price for lunches.

Full-priced lunches this year will be $1.90 at Joplin Early Childhood and all elementary schools, $2.05 at the middle schools, and $2.25 at the High School. Reduced price lunches will cost $0.40 each. Historically, about 60% of Joplin Schools students have qualified for free or reduced price meals.

Joplin’s Nutrition Services Director, Rick Kenkel, is urging all families to fill out the form, even if they have not previously applied or been eligible for free/reduced meals in years past.

“There have been a lot of changes to our local and regional economy over the past three years,” said Kenkel. “Even if your family didn’t qualify for free or reduced meals previously, there’s a chance you could do so now, and we want to be sure we capture that availability as quickly as possible for the new school year.”

Kenkel also noted that the form can and should be filled out starting now, so meal prices don’t catch families off-guard during those early first days of school.

Because families received free meals regardless of their choice to fill out the application from 2020 to early 2022, Joplin administrators are hoping to spread the news of this shift before back-to-school gets underway.

Dr. Jordan Dickey, Executive Director of Student Services, said the application does more than determine free meal eligibility.

“These applications help us track a baseline measurement of levels of economic deprivation across our district and in our individual schools,” Dickey said. “Those measurements, in turn, determine how much federal funding we’re eligible to receive for staffing purposes, grant accessibility, and program needs. The results of the free and reduced applications really are vital.”

Students who qualify for free or reduced price meals also have access to other school fee reductions, including for things like athletic participation. Kenkel noted that a lot of district families may not recognize the application as the first step to gaining access to a variety of statewide supports.

“But without that form being completed,” said Kenkel, “they can miss out on so much.”

The applications are open now, and can be accessed at Families can request paper forms, which sometimes take longer to process, through the Nutrition Services Warehouse at 1420 Broadway, or at their student’s school.

For assistance with form completion, families should call 417-625-5315.

Show More
Back to top button