MONTANA - School Lunches are no longer free for students in the state as the federal waiver that was created due to the pandemic, has expired. 

A new 25-cent increase in lunches in Missoula are now raising school lunch prices to $3 or $3.25, a hefty increase after lunch was free for the last two years. 

This can be quite the burden on families struggling to get by, but there is assistance for families who qualify. Stacy Rossmiller from Missoula County Public Schools says all parents should at least apply for free or reduced lunch. 

"You may not qualify for free, but you may qualify for reduced, which is 40 cents for lunch and 30 cents for breakfast. So it is a considerable savings."

This is true for all parents in the state, not just Missoula, said Rossmiller.

"Even if you don't qualify, or aren't sure, turn it in. The application has no impact on your credit rating. It is completely confidential," said Rossmiller. 

The application can be filled out any time, and it measures things like income and household size. On top of free or reduced lunch, qualified families may receive other waived school fees for athletics or transportation. A link to the application can be found here.

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