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The Burnet Consolidated Independent School District will start charging for middle school and high school lunches in the 2022-23 academic year after the federal government curtailed a 2020 pandemic program that reimbursed schools for the cost of the meals.

The BCISD Board of Trustees approved meal prices for the upcoming year during its meeting Monday, June 20. Middle school lunches will cost $2.60 and high school lunches $2.85, the same prices as in 2019.

“Although (keeping the charges the same as in 2019) will result in a loss of revenue, it is what it best for families,” said BCISD Superintendent Keith McBurnett in an email. “These changes will be evaluated again next school year in preparation for the 2023-2024 school year.”

Elementary school lunches will remain free after the district moves that meal under the USDA’s Community Eligibility Provision. The provision is only available for elementary campuses, McBurnett said.

Breakfast also will be free at all campuses.

Lunches had been free to all BCISD students since early in the COVID-19 pandemic under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act of March 2020, which authorized the U.S. Department of Agriculture to waive a number of rules. The USDA allowed school districts to extend the Summer Lunch Program into the academic year. The summer program pays the costs of school meals for all students, regardless of family income.

The USDA’s authority to extend the Summer Lunch Program throughout the school year ends June 30. Congress could choose to renew that authority.