INDIANAPOLIS — As thousands of kids head back to class, some families have to start paying for school lunches again.
A pandemic-era federal program that made lunch and breakfast free for everyone is officially over. More than 26 million free meals were served every school day because of the program.
Now, for the first time in two years, we're left wondering what's in store for Indiana students.
Some school districts, including Indianapolis Public Schools, still have free breakfast and lunch options through another program with the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The Community Eligibility Provision offers no-cost food for low-income school districts. The district is also signed up for several other USDA options, like the National School Breakfast and Lunch Program.
But for school districts that don't qualify for those programs, parents might end up footing the bill, which can put a serious pinch on budgets.
"I added it up and it was like $118 a month and then you do that times nine, it's over $1,000 a year," said Jaime Bunjes, a mother concerned about the end of the program. "So to me, it was like, 'Oh my gosh,' because I also have to, you know, buy groceries."
And now, Indiana schools, including IPS, could be at risk of losing those other funding options through the USDA.
The agency warned states that legislation banning transgender athletes were discriminatory and could jeopardize access to school lunch funding.