April 23, 2021

Free Universal School Lunches Extended

An Oklahoma City Public Schools employee wears a mask while handing food through a car window as part of the district’s meal program. (Photo Provided)

As schools across Oklahoma wind down the school year and plan for the next, a bit of good news out of Washington, D.C.: universal free school lunch has been extended through the 2021-22 school year. And schools’ reimbursement rates will remain at the higher-than-normal rate to allow for healthier food purchases and pandemic-related costs, the USDA announced this week.

More than 1 in 5 Oklahoma children don’t get enough food to eat. Schools have long filled a gap, providing meals for kids who need them.

But there was sometimes a stigma for those students receiving free lunches. One of the Oklahoma Watch stories that has really stuck with me over the years was on lunch shaming — where students at some schools received stamps on their hand or other visible reminders when their school lunch account was overdue. Free lunches for all students erase the stigma.

In other news this week, Epic Charter Schools’ governing board has agreed to settle with the authorizer of its statewide online school. That deal is expected to be finalized early next week. Follow me on Twitter (@jpalmerOKC) for live updates.

— Jennifer Palmer

Compromise Reached Between Epic and Statewide Virtual Charter School Board

The deal makes the learning fund public after July 1, but avoids revealing how $144 million in funds have been spent through the learning fund thus far. [Read more…]

Other Education News

  • Redbud School Funding Act Offers Compromise In Charter And Traditional Public School Money Fight [StateImpact Oklahoma]
  • Students Flocked to Cyber-Charter Schools This Year. So Did District Revenue and Federal Relief Funds [Governing]
  • Foster Care Agencies Take Thousands of Dollars Owed to Kids. Most Children Have No Idea. [The Marshall Project]
  • Female Principals Are Paid Less Than Men. That’s a Big Concern [Education Week]
  • What the Odd History of ‘Pulling Yourself Up By Your Bootstraps’ Says About Education Equity [EdSurge (Podcast)]

Tweet Watch

Help Us Make a Difference

During times of crisis like the COVID-19 pandemic, Oklahoma needs high-quality investigative journalism. That is our mission at Oklahoma Watch. We produce stories that hold government and public officials accountable and that make transparent what some prefer to keep secret. We depend on financial support from readers like you to sustain our coverage. Help us make a difference.


Support our publication

Every day we strive to produce journalism that matters — stories that strengthen accountability and transparency, provide value and resonate with readers like you.

This work is essential to a better-informed community and a healthy democracy. But it isn’t possible without your support.