Families brace for changes to pandemic-era free school meals

ESSEX, Vt. (AP) — Before the pandemic, there was no room in the budget for Kate Murphy’s children to buy lunch at school. She and her husband would buy in bulk and make bag lunches at home. So the free school meals that were made available to students nationwide amid the crisis have brought welcome relief, especially since her husband lost his job last year at a bakery company that closed.The free meals gave the Essex Junction, Vermont, family one less thing to worry about.’We make just too much money (literally by just a few dollars) to qualify for free or reduced lunches and other food-related benefits, but not enough to truly ever feel financially comfortable,’ Murphy, a mother of four and administrator at a trust company, said by email.