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No free school lunches for all next year, thanks to a veto by Gov. Lombardo


Nevada school students who have relied on free school lunches for the past few years may face a new hurdle starting next year. Gov. Joe Lombardo in June vetoed a bill that would have extended free lunches for every student.

The state last year, under former Gov. Steve Sisolak, promoted free lunches for all students. 

“We know students can’t learn on an empty stomach. This is one way we can help make sure students have access to healthy meals at school and provide some relief to parents,” Sisolak said a year ago.

But a bill veto by Lombardo, one of many this past legislative session – making him the governor in Nevada’s history with the most vetoed bills – has killed free-lunch access for all starting next school year.

“If you guys want to link to Governor Lombardo’s veto of the bill that passed the legislature, which would have funded free universal lunch for the ‘24-’25 school year would be appropriate context,” Adam Searcy with Washoe County School District told the news media last week.

Starting in the 2024-25 school year, students will have to apply for free and reduced lunches. The dollars are appropriated annually by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and funneled through Nevada’s Department of Agriculture.

“Obviously, school lunch has been a part of our school day for generations,” Searcy added. “COVID really brought the attention to the value that school nutrition provides every day. We’ve been very blessed by federal relief dollars to create what we call a universal free environment where every student is afforded meals, regardless of their ability to pay, at no costs.”

Searcy emphasized, however, that no student will be turned away for a free lunch for school starting this fall. 

For those in need of school lunches after the 2023-24 school year, the district requires parents to fill out meal applications online.

Bob Conrad
Bob Conradhttp://thisisreno.com
Bob Conrad is publisher, editor and co-founder of This Is Reno. He has served in communications positions for various state agencies and earned a doctorate in educational leadership from the University of Nevada, Reno in 2011. He is also a part time instructor at UNR and sits on the boards of the Nevada Press Association and Nevada Open Government Coalition.