The government will continue to authorize schools to provide free meals to any student through the end of 2020.
When the pandemic forced schools to close, the Department of Agriculture decided to allow districts to distribute subsidized to-go meals to *all students under 19. The approach aimed to make sure low-income children weren't caught up in red tape during the pandemic and could be fed while stuck at home.
The plan was that when schools returned, either remotely or in-person, students who did not usually qualify for free or reduced-price lunches would be charged.
But as schools resumed online in August, child welfare advocates saw the number of meals drop, meaning more kids were going hungry. They said the problem was that the pandemic was still creating hurdles for low-income parents to sign up for the free or reduced food.
The broader program will continue until funding runs out this year. Advocates had hoped the Trump administration would extend the benefit into 2021.
The New York Times reports that about 20 million poor children in the United States normally receive free lunches at school.
Contains footage from CNN.