Department of Education announces its policy for free and reduced meals
The Iowa Department of Education, Bureau of Nutrition and Health Services, announced its policy for free and reduced price meals for children unable to pay the full price of meals served under the National School Lunch Program, School Breakfast Program and the Afterschool Care Snack Program.
State and Local school officials have adopted the following family size and income criteria for determining eligibility:
1. Households whose income is at or below the levels shown are eligible for reduced price meals or free meals, if they complete an Application for Free and Reduced Price School Meals/Milk. Households may complete one application listing all children and return it to your child’s school. When completing an application, only the last four digits of the social security number of the household’s primary wage earner or another adult household member is needed.
2. Food Assistance households, children receiving benefits under the Family Investment Program (FIP) and children in other specific DHS programs are eligible for free meals. Most children from Food Assistance and FIP households will be qualified for free meals automatically. These households will receive a letter from their children’s schools notifying them of their benefits. Households that receive a letter from the school need to do nothing more for their children to receive free meals. No further application is necessary. If any children were not listed on the notice of eligibility, the household should contact the school to have free meal benefits extended to them. Households must contact the school if they choose to decline meal benefits
3. Some Food Assistance and FIP households will receive a letter from the Department of Human Services (DHS) which will qualify the children listed on the letter for free meals. Parents must take this letter to the child’s school to receive free meals.
4. Food Assistance or FIP households receiving benefits that do not receive a letter from DHS must complete an application with the abbreviated information as indicated on the application and instructions, for their children to receive free meals. When the application lists an Assistance Program’s case number for any household member, eligibility for free benefits is extended to all children in a household.
Eligibility from the previous year will continue within the same school for up to 30 operating days into the new school year. When the carry-over period ends, unless the household is notified that their children are directly certified or the household submits an application that is approved, the children must pay full price for school meals and the school will not send a reminder or a notice of expired eligibility. An application cannot be approved unless complete eligibility information is submitted. Applications may be submitted at any time during the year. If a family member becomes unemployed the family should contact the school to complete an application. Households notified of their children’s eligibility must contact the school if the household chooses to decline the free meal benefits.Foster children are eligible for free meal benefits. Some foster children will be qualified for free meals automatically through the State Direct Certification process.
Their host family will receive notification of these benefits. Families that receive this notification from the school need to do nothing more for their foster children to receive free meals. If a family has foster children living with them and does not receive notification and wishes to apply for such meals, instructions for making application for such children are contained on the application form. A foster child may be included as a member of the foster family if the foster family chooses to also apply for benefits for other children. Including children in foster care as household members may help other children in the household qualify for benefits.
If the foster family is not eligible for free or reduced price meal benefits, it does not prevent a foster child from receiving benefits. Special Supplement Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) participants may be eligible for free or reduced price meals based on a completed application.
When known by the school, households will be notified of any child eligible for free meals if the children are enrolled in the Head Start/Even Start Program or are considered homeless, migrant or runaway. If any children are not listed on the notice of eligibility, contact the school for assistance in receiving benefits. If households are dissatisfied with the application approval done by the officials, they may make a formal appeal either orally or in writing to the school’s designated hearing official. The Policy Statement on file at the school contains an outline of the hearing procedure. School officials may verify the information in the application, and that deliberate misrepresentation of information may subject the applicant to prosecution under applicable State and Federal criminal statutes. Households should contact their local school for additional information.
There will be no discrimination against individuals with Limited English Proficiency (LEP) in the school meal programs.
Nondiscrimination Statement: This explains what to do if you believe you have been treated unfairly.
In accordance with Federal civil rights law and U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) civil rights regulations and policies, the USDA, its Agencies, offices, and employees, and institutions participating in or administering USDA programs are prohibited from discriminating based on race, color, national origin, sex, disability, age, or reprisal or retaliation for prior civil rights activity in any program or activity conducted or funded by USDA.
Persons with disabilities who require alternative means of communication for program information (e.g. Braille, large print, audiotape, American Sign Language, etc.), should contact the Agency (State or local) where they applied for benefits. Individuals who are deaf, hard of hearing or have speech disabilities may contact USDA through the Federal Relay Service at (800) 877-8339. Additionally, program information may be made available in languages other than English.