Education department announces guidelines for 2005-06 free or reduced lunch program

Education department announces guidelines for 2005-06 free or reduced lunch program Each year, the National School Lunch Program serves 17 million meals to children in cafeterias throughout South Dakota. Once again, eligible families may apply for free or reduced price meals or free milk for their children, according to guidelines effective July 1.

Offered through the Department of Education�s Child and Adult Nutrition Services, the program covers school year 2005-06. It allows children whose families are unable to pay the full price of meals or milk served under the National School Lunch, School Breakfast, and/or Special Milk Programs to receive these items free or at a reduced cost.

A list of participating schools can be found at the Department of Education�s Web site at doe.sd.gov/oess/ cans/index.asp. Applications will be provided to all households by the local school. Each school that participates in the Lunch, Breakfast, and/or Special Milk Program has a copy of the policy available for review.

Eligibility guidelines

The chart indicates income scales used to determine an applicant�s eligibility for free or reduced price meals. Children from families whose income is at, or below, the levels shown are eligible for free or reduced price meals. They also may be eligible for free milk, if the school participated in a federally funded Milk Program.

How to apply

Households that are currently on Food Stamps or Temporary Assistance for Needy Families will receive letters indicating that their children are eligible for free school meals. These families should not complete an application for free meals for the listed children. Rather, they should bring the letter, or a copy of it, to the school.

Families receiving commodities through the Food Distribution Program on Indian reservations can request an Interagency Action Notice that can be brought to the school in place of an application.

Most foster children are eligible for free or reduced price meals or free milk, regardless of the income of the household in which they reside. Households with a foster child should contact the local school for information on how to apply for these benefits.

If a household that receives food stamps, TANF, or FDPIR (commodities) does not receive the letter from Social Services or the Interagency Notice of Action, has children in the household not listed in the letter, or chooses not to bring it to school, the household should complete an application. An application from these households must include the names of children for whom benefits are being requested, the case number from their program, and the signature of an adult household member. Information on any application may be verified at any time during the school year by school or other program officials.

To apply for free or reduced price meals, other households should fill out the application and return it to the school. An application must include the names of children for whom benefits are requested, and all family members and their monthly income. It must be signed by an adult household member, and it must include that person�s social security number.

Incomplete applications cannot be approved. Additional copies are available in the school office. The information provided on the application is confidential and will be used for the purpose of determining eligibility status for school meals and Title I programs.

Change in status

Applications may be submitted at any time during the year. If a household member becomes unemployed or if the household size changes, the family should contact the school. If a parent or guardian become unemployed, children from that household may be eligible for free or reduced price meals or free milk during the time of unemployment, if the household�s income falls within the eligibility guidelines.

Follow-up

If a parent or guardian is dissatisfied with the ruling on the application for eligibility, the individual may contact the determining official on an informal basis. If the parent or guardian wishes to make a formal appeal, an oral or written request may be made to the school�s hearing official for a hearing to appeal the decision.

Children who receive free or reduced price meals are treated the same as children who pay for meals. No child will be discriminated against in accordance with federal law and U.S. Department of Agriculture policy.

This institution is prohibited from discriminating on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex, age, or disability.

The file a complaint, write USDA, Director, Office of Civil Rights, Room 326-W, Whitten Building, 1400 Independence Avenue, SW, Washington, D.C. 20250-9410 or call (202) 720-5964 (voice and TDD). USDA is an equal opportunity provider and employer. If a child needs a special diet as prescribed by a doctor, the family should contact the local school�s food service manager.

Some schools may send a special notice about the Children�s Health Insurance Program to households with the application. It provides a way for school personnel to know if families will allow them to use students� eligibility status for other program benefits. The decision as to whether or not a household is eligible for meal benefits is not affected by this form.

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