With the new school year starting in just a few weeks, and with new rules going into effect for free and reduced-priced school meals, the Marion School District is urging qualifying families to sign up for the service as soon as possible.

The federal USDA waiver that allowed school districts to provide meals at no cost to all students expired on June 30, 2022. The USDA did NOT extend the federal waiver for the upcoming school year.

This means families who do not qualify for free or reduced-price meals can expect to resume paying full-price for school meals. However, many students will still qualify for the reduced-price meals, but families must apply.

Families can apply for free and reduced-price meals for the 2022-23 school year by downloading a paper application here. Applications are also available at any school and at the district’s Central Office. Only one application per household is required. Income eligibility guidelines are available here.

The benefits of the free and reduced-price meal program extend beyond school meals. Additional benefits for qualifying families include:

  • Discounted Internet service
  • Discounts on ACT testing fees for juniors and seniors
  • Discounts on application fees from participating colleges
  • Weekly food bags from our school pantry (for families of enrolled students)
  • Discounted price for after-school care from the Boys & Girls Club

“We understand this change may cause a financial impact for many of our families,” said Victoria Phillips, the district’s director of child nutrition. “If your student qualifies for free or reduced meals, they can still receive them next year, but you will need to apply to be considered for the program. If you are concerned that you may not be able to afford school meal prices, we urge you to fill out an application for free or reduced meal benefits.”

Meal Prices

Currently, the district is experiencing food costs at record levels. To help offset some of these costs, lunch prices will increase for the 2022-23 school year. Breakfast will be available to all students at no charge. This will be the district’s first increase in meal prices since 2017.

Meal costs for the 2022-23 school year will be as follows:

  • Student breakfast: no charge
  • Elementary lunch: $3.00 (PreK-6th grade)
  • Secondary lunch: $3.50 (Grades 7-12)
  • Adult breakfast: $2.50
  • Adult lunch: $4.40

“We know the free meals for all students provided a welcome relief during the Covid-19 pandemic, and we sympathize with parents about the upcoming change,” Phillips said. “If the laws change to allow us to continue providing free meals for everybody, the Marion School District will certainly participate. However, we do want to be sure to give our families time to plan accordingly.”

For assistance completing the application or for questions, please contact the Child Nutrition office at 870-739-5100.

The Marion School District is an innovative and growing district committed to helping every student find their unique path to success in school and in life. With more than 150 years of experience serving families in Crittenden County, the district offers a high school, a junior high, and three award-winning magnet schools. For enrollment information, including information on school choice, visit or call 870-739-5100.