USDA contract ends, what does that mean for WFHS Lunch?


Tyger Albano, Staff Writer

As of April 2022, the United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) waiver has ended. The contract lasted two years, beginning at the 2020-2021 school year to the 2021-2022 school year. The USDA waiver was signed during the COVID-19 pandemic to compensate for those in financial deficit. The contract allowed schools to serve students free lunch every day for the year. Now with the contract ending, free lunch for students will be gone as of the 2022-2023 school year; however, reduced payment options that were in place before the contract, including free lunch and reduced lunch, will be able for application.

Food Services Director, Dana Rieth, says that the end of the contract itself does not affect the kitchen or the quality of food. However, she notes that there are students who would have major drawbacks from it, but there is a way to get around it . “School districts were able to provide meals to all students at no charge under a USDA waiver during COVID. That waiver expired at the end of the 2021-2022 school year,” Reith said. “For the current school year, all families must pay for school meals, unless they qualify for free or reduced-price meals. Our district is encouraging all families to fill out the application for free/reduced meals to see if they qualify. There is an online application on our district website.”

Rieth also states that the money from students could benefit some problems, “We continue to experience some challenges with supply chain shortages, and we are frequently making substitutions on our menus. The kitchen staff may have to change the menu based on the food that is received on our orders, but they will always ensure that a healthy meal is available to students each day.”

Whether or not the restoration of paid lunch is beneficial or not, it was inevitable that West Fargo Public Schools would return to its older ways. Students can apply for free or reduced lunch at MySchoolApps.