By Melinda Munson

Effective Sept. 1, any student enrolled in the State of Alaska Medicaid program is eligible for free lunch at Skagway City School. The policy change is in effect for the 2020-2022 school year as a response to the Covid-19 financial crisis.

The school doesn’t participate in the National School Lunch Program. Prior to the policy change, students had to qualify for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), commonly known as food stamps, to receive free lunch. Skagway School lunches are $5 each.

“For a family with three children who eat lunch at school, that’s $300 a month, so yes, it helps my family a lot,” said Danielle Arnold, who pointed out that qualifying for Medicaid is much easier than qualifying for SNAP.

“…To get SNAP, you really do have to make a very low income,” she said.

The program change was put forward by School Board President John Hischer. Its second reading passed on Aug. 31. Families must provide proof of Medicaid eligibility, such as a copy of the child’s Medicaid card, to the front office. Free meals begin once Medicaid eligibility is verified.

“No backdating will be allowed,” the Skagway School announcement stated.

While the school awaits its $2 million kitchen remodel, students are served soup, a salad bar and sandwiches, with pizza on Friday.