CHESAPEAKE, Va. (WAVY) — As COVID-19 vaccinations increase and cases drop, the world is slowly returning to pre-pandemic life.

One of those changes impacts student meals.

Federal funding for free lunches expired on June 30, which now puts the responsibility back on parents.

Some local schools that have a high free and reduced lunch population won’t be impacted by this change, but others are going to have to go back to what they did before the pandemic.

Only about 38% of students at Chesapeake Public Schools qualify for free and reduced lunches, so they’ll have to go back to serving students based on eligibility.

“It’s imperative that we provide meals and make sure they are available. We are also concerned about food insecurity and as much as there are a number of communities in the city of Chesapeake where there may be food deserts,” said Director of School Nutrition Services, Larry Wade.

Unlike last summer, some students don’t qualify for free meals anymore.

The federal waiver that allowed schools to provide all students with free lunches has expired for some schools within districts like Chesapeake Public Schools.

“There are some schools in the City of Chesapeake where students do not have to apply because they’re community eligibility provision schools, we’ll have approximately 20 this year, where parents don’t have to apply because every kid in that building will receive meals at no cost,” said Wade.

Votes to expand the free meal service at the national level failed, so now state leaders are working to expand who is eligible for free food.

Advocates say more than 64,000 Virginia students who previously got meals at a reduced price can now get them at no cost.

“‘What we have passed is substantial in that it will provide a lot of flexibility to our school districts,” said Congresswoman Abigail Spanberger.

Even though lunchtime may look a little different now, school leaders say the goal is still the same.

“We’re here and we want to work collaboratively with parents, community and everyone else to make sure our kids get fed,” said Wade.

Because financial situations may have changed over the course of the pandemic, parents are encouraged to fill out the application to see if their status has changed.

To view a list of summer feeding sites in Chesapeake, CLICK HERE.

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