Board: Free meals lead to challenges; construction projects are delayed

USD 257 board members are debating how to encourage parents to provide information about free and reduced meals. That statistic is important for funding, but families have less incentive to fill out forms now that school meals are paid for by the USDA.

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May 26, 2021 - 10:04 AM

Even though most of the exterior work is done at the new science and technology building at Iola High School, heavy rains have led to high humidity, delaying some interior projects. Rain has delayed both this project and the elementary school construction. Photo by Vickie Moss / Iola Register

There’s no such thing as a free meal, USD 257 board members are learning.

Since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, the USDA and Kansas Department of Education have provided free meals for students through much of the year and will continue to do so next year. Essentially, the government reimburses schools for the cost of meals, so families do not have to pay.

While that’s good news, the downside is that school officials are having a hard time getting families to provide them proof of income, necessary to receive free or reduced-priced meals.

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