school lunches

The USDA has extended the summer food service program to allow schools that have been providing meals to low-income kids through the summer to continue to do so through the end of the calendar year. But not all kids getting school meals will benefit.

Parents of K-12 students in Ohio who receive free or reduced school meals will soon see a Pandemic Electronic Benefit Transfer – or P-EBT – card in the mail.

The Ohio Department of Job and Family Services is sending the P-EBT cards to make up for the 53 days of school breakfasts and lunches students missed out on when the state’s public schools went virtual in March.

Families will receive one card for every student in the free meals program. Each card will have $302 or $231, depending on when the student enrolled in the program.

Kroger, the largest grocery chain in the country, will phase out the use of plastic bags in its stores by 2025.
Rogelio V. Solis / AP

Families that are part of their school district's free or reduced-price meal programs will soon receive assistance to help buy food through the Pandemic Electronic Benefit Transfer program, which just received federal approval.

When Ashley Walters, a Dayton Public Schools parent, heard that meals could be delivered to the homes of students, she was excited. She thought it was wonderful that the school system was providing meals for children during the COVID-19 emergency and going a step further by offering delivery. Then, she tried to make a request online, and saw what looked like an error message.

“It tells me that because of an overwhelming response, or something along those lines, they have had to close down the delivery service requests,” she said.

Some of the biggest leaders in public service and in the business world gathered in Columbus for the 25th Annual Children's Hunger Alliance "Menu of Hope" luncheon aimed at ending food insecurity.

Two pending rule changes meant to reduce what the Trump administration calls abuse of federal benefit programs could also mean hundreds of thousands of children lose access to free school meals.

Updated Tuesday at 12:00 p.m.: 

If buying fresh organic ingredients at the grocery store is breaking the bank, you may have a similar problem as Cincinnati Public Schools.

When Elle Simone Scott was a young girl, her family relied on food stamps and her school's free lunch program to get by.

"At several points in my life, receiving free lunch when I needed it the most, it was so beneficial for me," she says. "You know, it was sometimes the most complete meal that I and some of my friends would have in a day."

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Only 10 percent of eligible children in Columbus have access to free summer meals. Columbus City Council on Monday voted to approve $2.6 million in funding to expand the city’s summer meal program to help bridge the gap.

A coalition of state attorneys general is suing the Trump administration for weakening the federal nutrition standards for school meals that are fed to about 30 million children across the country.

School lunches are healthier than they were five years ago. But Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue says schools need more flexibility in serving meals that kids will eat.

"If kids are not eating what is being served, they are not benefiting, and food is being wasted," Perdue said in a statement announcing a rule that is set to be published later this month.