For the first time in two years, public school meals won’t be free for all students.

In the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic, the U.S. Department of Agriculture issued waivers to reimburse public K-12 schools giving free meals to students. That program is coming to an end next month, however, and the free and reduced-price meals will be available only to students who qualify.

The exception? Students attending schools where 40% of the student body is eligible for free or reduced-price meals. Those institutions are reimbursed for free meals under a federal program.

Of 107 schools in Seattle’s public K-12 school district, 52 fit that profile — so students at those sites will continue receiving free meals, said district spokesperson Sondra Santos.

Parents of students at the other schools need to apply for free or reduced-price meals.

A family of four with about $51,300 or less in annual income will qualify for free student meals. A family of three making about $42,600 or less would also be eligible.


Students whose families make more than the federal program’s threshold will not be eligible.

Seattle public elementary and K-8 schools will be charging families $2.25 for breakfast and $3.25 for lunch this academic year. For the district’s middle and high schools, breakfast will cost $2.50, and lunch will cost $3.50.

More information about the income eligibility criteria for free or reduced-price meals at Seattle Public Schools is available on the district’s website.