Regional News

Free and Reduced-Price Meal Programs


Sep 07, 2014

Washington public schools play a vital role by providing free and reduced-price meals to all students in need. The application process is simple and confidential.

The following nutrition programs are administered by the U.S. Department of Agriculture:

  • National School Lunch Program provides reduced-price lunches at 40 cents each. Washington, however, pays all lunch costs for public school students in grades K?3 eligible for reduced-price meals.
  • School Breakfast Program provides reduced-price breakfasts at 30 cents each. Washington pays all breakfast costs for public school students in grades K-12 eligible for reduced-price meals.
  • Special Milk Program may provide free milk, depending upon the school, for all eligible students.

At the beginning of the school year, an application packet was sent to all households with students in Washington schools. All households with income levels below certain thresholds (see the tables below) are encouraged to apply for any or all of the programs listed above.

All foster children are eligible for free meal benefits. If a household has foster children living with them and wish to apply for meal benefits, complete and submit an application.

Homeless and migrant students, households taking part in Food Distribution Program on Indian Reservations and students in Head Start and Early Childhood Education and Assistance Program are eligible for free meals. Contact your child’s school for more information.

The application packet, available at each school, explains where the application should be sent. Applications will be reviewed and a determination made within 10 working days of receipt of the application. Parents denied eligibility can appeal the decision by contacting their school.

Applications can be submitted any time during the school year. If a household member becomes unemployed, for example, the family should contact the school because the employment change may make children of the household eligible for free or reduced-price meals.

Each month, the Department of Social and Health Services provides the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction with a list of children who receive federal assistance through the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, the Basic Food Program or foster care.

Students receiving help through TANF or Basic Food – as well as all other students in the same household – automatically qualify for free meals if their school participates in federal child nutrition programs. Households notified of their children’s eligibility must contact the school if it chooses to decline the free meal benefits.

In households where foster children reside, all other students in the household may be eligible for free or reduced price meals based on household size and income. In these situations, households may submit an application.

Eligibility lasts from the date of approval up to the first 30 operating days of the next school year or until a family contacts the school or district.

If you have questions about eligibility, contact your child’s school. Currently, 356 entities in Washington state participate in the breakfast and lunch programs: 280 public school districts, 33 private schools and 43 residential child care institutions.

Schools with fewer than 25 percent of the enrolled K-4 students who qualify for free or reduced-price meals are not required to operate the National School Lunch Program. In addition, schools with fewer than 40 percent or less of enrolled students qualify for free or reduced-price meals are not required to operate the school breakfast program.

Participation in the Special Milk Program consists of 48 entities: three public school districts, 34 private schools and 11 summer camps.

Participating schools and institutions must follow meal patterns established by the United States Department of Agriculture for breakfast and lunch. Meal patterns reflect the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans and contain foods from specific food groups; milk, meat or meat alternate, grains, fruits, and vegetables. In addition, meals must meet standards for calories, saturated fat, sodium and trans fat.

The income eligibility guidelines listed below are used to determine the eligibility of children to receive free or reduced-price meals or free milk.

USDA CHILD NUTRITION PROGRAM INCOME GUIDELINES
July 1, 2014 to June 30, 2015

Free lunch

Household Size

Annual

Monthly

Twice per month

Every Two Weeks

Weekly

1

$15,171

$1,265

$633

$584

$292

2

20,449

1,705

853

787

394

3

25,727

2,144

1,072

990

495

4

31,005

2,584

1,292

1,193

597

5

36,283

3,024

1,512

1,396

698

6

41,561

3,464

1,732

1,599

800

7

46,839

3,904

1,952

1,802

901

8

52,117

4,344

2,172

2,005

1,003

For each add’l household member, add

+5,278

+440

+220

+203

+102

 

Reduced-price lunch

Household Size

Annual

Monthly

Twice per month

Every Two Weeks

Weekly

1

$21,590

$1,800

$900

$831

$416

2

29,101

2,426

1,213

1,120

560

3

36,612

3,051

1,526

1,409

705

4

44,123

3,677

1,839

1,698

849

5

51,634

4,303

2,152

1,986

993

6

59,145

4,929

2,465

2,275

1,138

7

66,656

5,555

2,778

2,564

1,282

8

74,167

6,181

3,091

2,853

1,427

For each add’l household member, add

+7,511

+626

+313

+289

+145

For more information

 


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