Pennsylvania to have free universal breakfast for students come October

Published: Sep. 21, 2022 at 9:54 PM EDT
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MONTROSE (WBNG) - “Families are struggling in this area and all over the country trying to get their bills paid,” said Director of Food and Nutrition Codie Keogh with Montrose Area Junior-Senior High School. In Pennsylvania Oct. 1, parents dealing with inflation and other factors will be able to worry about one less thing, which is their kid getting a proper breakfast.

Governor Tom Wolf announced the Universal Free Breakfast Program, which will be available to students throughout the rest of the 2022-2023 academic year.

“I think it was really hard for families to adjust from two years of free lunches to have to then adjust back to paid lunches,” said Principal Eric Powers with Montrose Area Junior-Senior High School.

12 News asked Powers why the program wasn’t in place at the beginning of this academic year. “I think the Oct. 1 start is really just a roll out,” he said. “I think the governor would have had it ready for the start of the school year if he could have.”

Powers went over, in his opinion, why the approach may be different than what’s happening this academic year in New York. “I think it’s different New York to Pennsylvania right now just in terms of what the legislative priorities are,” he said. “There’s a need in New York State as well. And demographically, much of Broome County isn’t all that different from Susquehanna County once you get outside of the urban areas. I think it’s just a matter of our lawmakers getting together and making something happen.”

Once October is here, here’s some of what Keogh would like to offer students. “Fresh fruits, 100% fruit juice, we do fruit and yogurt parfaits are one of our bigger hits, breakfast sandwiches, breakfast pizza,” said Keogh. “You name it, it’s on the menu.”

In the near future, the school district has hopes to offer a free lunch program, too.

In New York state, the child nutrition waivers aren’t around for everyone this school year as that effort expired in June. However, individual school districts can carry out their own plans, such as Union-Endicott Central School District. On Aug. 24 via email, the school district shared the following with 12 News:

“All Union-Endicott students enrolled at all of our schools may receive a healthy breakfast and lunch at school at no charge to the household each day of the 2022-2023 school year. No further action is required of families. Students will be able to participate in these meal programs without having to pay a fee or submit an application.”