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Spokane public schools to expand lunch programs for free lunch year-round

The lunch program started during the pandemic to help provide Spokane children with food. Now, with legislative help, it will be expanded past that.

SPOKANE COUNTY, Wash. — The Spokane Public School District says families may face economic challenges this year, but feeding their kids won't be one of them.

"This is recognition that there is a value in our state that no kid should ever be hungry," Adam Swinyard, Spokane Schools Superintendent, said. "Multiple entities working together to make sure that's never the case."

Spokane Public Schools is announcing today that it is expanding its free lunch program. 

During the pandemic, the school district provided free meals for all kids and that will continue with some new legislative support. 

Superintendent Adam Swinyard today says by participating in the expanded community eligibility program, kids will be fed and able to better meet their potential in the classroom. 

Swinyard says even before the pandemic, over 55% of school students in the district were receiving free and reduced lunch support and acknowledges that number will likely grow with financial struggles like inflation.  

The House bill that made the program available was sponsored by Representative Marcus Riccelli, who says it's just the beginning. 

"Next stop is universal access to free lunch, so we take it off the table," Riccelli said. "It shouldn't be 44 % but 100% of our kids in Washington."

Editor's Note: The original version of this article stated that all Spokane school districts would be taking advantage of the free meals program. Central Valley School District and Mead School District were only approved for a portion of the funding, meaning not every school within the districts will be able to offer free meals for all students. 

RELATED: Sorority to pay University of Washington students $250k in relief for housing fees

RELATED: Washington's school cafeterias face food, supply shortages due to pandemic disruptions

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