As Free School Lunches End, School Districts Join Forces to Stress Importance of Returning Completed Federal Benefits Application

Tri-Cities, Tenn. – The five school districts in Sullivan and Washington counties (including Bristol, Johnson City and Kingsport) are joining forces to encourage all families to complete the federal meal benefits application that helps qualify students for free or reduced prices on school meals.

Since federal waivers, which have allowed all students to eat free since March 2020, will no longer be in effect for the upcoming school year (starting August 1, 2022), school meal service will resume operating as it did prior to the pandemic. For students to receive free or reduced prices on school meals, they will need to have an approved application on file. Kingsport City Schools families can apply here

“It is more important than ever for families to complete the meal benefits application to determine if they qualify,” said Jennifer Burleson, school nutrition director for Bristol Tennessee City Schools. “With the federal waiver providing free meals for all students last school year, many families never completed an application. As a result, our percentage of families who qualified for free or reduced meals was much lower than usual.”

Her counterpart with Johnson City Schools agreed.
“We encourage all families to complete the meal benefits application,” said Karen McGahey, food service director for Johnson City Schools. “The program provides more than just meals for students. Completing that one form can result in increased funding for additional classroom resources to benefit all students; discounts on SAT, ACT and AP exam fees; discounted fees on college applications; and increased opportunities for college scholarships.”
Districts will provide applications to all students at the beginning of the school year. Families must reapply each year and can apply anytime during the school year.  

For Kingsport City Schools breakfast and lunch menus, meal payment information or to apply for free/reduced meals, visit or click here

Kingsport City Schools (KCS) is a public school district located in Kingsport, Tenn., serving students in Sullivan and Hawkins county. The district is comprised of 13 schools, including a Pre-K, eight elementary schools, two middle schools, one high school, a high school program of choice, and an alternative learning program; with a total enrollment of over 7,600 students. The vision of Kingsport City Schools is to Inspire. Cultivate. Impact.

For more information on KCS, visit, listen live on WCSK 90.3 FM, The Voice of KCS, read our blog, We Are KCS, download our mobile app for Apple/Android devices or call (423) 378.2100. We’re social too; follow us on Facebook (Kingsport City Schools), Instagram (@kcs_district), Twitter (@KCS_District), LinkedIn (Kingsport City Schools), and check out our YouTube Channel (KPTSchools).