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Free meals will be available for students and families again this year

Many school districts are now asking their families to sign up before the new school year begins.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — The federal government is extending its funding for free meals at schools through the upcoming school year, which means all families will have the opportunity to get no-cost meals both at school and to take home.

However, this also means you might have one more small task added to your to-do list.

Last year, the USDA upped funding to school districts across the country so that students who depended on their school to be fed wouldn't go hungry while schools were closed during the pandemic.

The organization also dropped the income requirements for the program, so all families could take part regardless of finances.

The USDA is keeping the program around for another year and the organization is adding more funding to make sure school districts can meet nutritional guidelines with the meals they give out.

RELATED: VERIFY: No, K-12 schools in Kentucky are not teaching critical race theory

Research on free school meals and boosted nutrition is limited, but according to the American Action Forum, increased nutritional standards and free meals - particularly when they include breakfast - have a positive impact on student well-being and success.

Studies have shown that childhood obesity can be reduced by up to 47% and increased participation in free, nutritionally-balanced meal programs improved test scores among students with a lower income by up to 40%.

In order to get the right amount of money, the federal government is asking school districts to give them a count of how many families will participate in the free meal program, so districts are now asking their families to sign up before the new school year begins.

Several districts in Kentucky and Indiana have forms on their websites to fill out. Some, like Hardin County, are planning to send forms home with kids their first week back at school.

If you want your family to receive these free meals, check with your district now to see if there's something you need to do as the summer comes to an end.

    

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