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All kids getting free school meals

ALPENA — The U.S. Department of Agriculture is funding free meals for all students, regardless of family income, through the end of the calendar year.

Congress in March allowed the USDA to issue waivers to schools in the Families First Coronavirus Response Act so schools could provide meals to children during the coronavirus pandemic.

On Aug. 31, the USDA extended those waivers until Dec. 31, or until funding runs out.

That means schools can continue providing free breakfast and lunch for students every day of the week and families can pick up meals for their children from one location. It also reduces the accounting burden on schools that force them to track and charge students who receive free, reduced-price, or paid meals.

Alpena Public Schools is still encouraging parents to still fill out the free-or-reduced application so they can qualify for free or reduced-price lunch once the USDA funding runs out.

Families with students at Alternative Choices for Educational Success Academy or at Hinks, Lincoln, or Sanborn elementaries will be asked to fill out a household survey instead, as free-and-reduced applications are not needed for those schools.

APS reported 2,125 economically disadvantaged students in the 2019-20 school year, about 58% of the student population.

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