New Guidelines For Free/Reduced Lunch Program

The Indiana Department of Education announces the new 2012-2013 federal household size and income guidelines for free and reduced price meal programs.

Under the National School Lunch, School Breakfast, and Special Milk Programs, students unable to pay the full price for meals or milk receive the nourishment they need to stay healthy.

Every local school corporation office has a copy of the guidelines that may be reviewed by any interested party. The following household size and income criteria will be used for determining eligibility. The guidelines took effect July 1 and are good through June 30, 2013:

All parents and guardians of school aged children will receive information on the programs available and application forms. To apply for free or reduced price benefits, households must complete the application as soon as possible, sign it, and return it to the school.

One application should be submitted for all students in the household who are enrolled in the school district.  An application that does not contain all the required information cannot be processed and approved by the school. The required information is below.

If a household currently receives food stamps or Temporary Assistance for Needy Families for any child or other household member, they need only list the child’s name and Food Stamp or TANF case number and sign the application.

For all other households, incomes at or below the levels identified on the income scale, children are eligible for free or reduced price meals or free milk. Households must provide the following information: (1) names of all household members, (2) all household income last month and source of income received by each household member (for example, EARNINGS, WELFARE, PENSION, or OTHER). Income is all money before taxes or anything else is taken out, (3) the signature of an adult household member, and (4) the Social Security number of the adult signing the application.

The information on the application for free or reduced price meals may be verified by the school or other officials at any time during the school year.

The information households provide will be treated confidentially and will be used only for the eligibility determinations and verification of data.

Households may apply for benefits at any time during the school year. If a household is not eligible now but has a decrease in household income, an increase in household size, or a household member becomes unemployed, an application should be filled out at that time.

Foster children are eligible for free meal or milk benefits regardless of household income. If a household has foster children living with them and they wish to apply for meals or milk benefits for those foster children, they should contact the school for help with the application.

Children enrolled in the Head Start/Even Start Program or the Migrant Education Program or who are considered homeless or runaway by the school district’s homeless liaison should contact the school for assistance in receiving benefits.

Under the provisions of the policy, a local school corporation official will review applications and determine eligibility. Households dissatisfied with the ruling of the official may wish to discuss it with the school.

Households also have the right to a fair hearing, which may be initiated by contacting the hearing official in the local school corporation.

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