Tennessee Announces 2010-2011 Free and Reduced Price Meal Guidelines

Friday, July 23, 2010 | 02:28 pm

NASHVILLE - The Tennessee Department of Education today announced the 2010-2011 United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) policy for free and reduced price meals for children in Tennessee’s schools. The USDA’s school meals programs help ensure all students have access to a nutritious diet.

“Healthy, nutritious meals are the fuel our children need to be successful and improve their learning opportunities,” Education Commissioner Timothy Webb said. “Research indicates eating habits affect learning, so we know a hungry child has difficulties learning. We want to ensure all our children start out on the right path to college and a career.”

Basic facts about free and reduced price meals:

Do you need to fill out an application for each of your children?  No, you only need one application for each household.
Do you need to fill out an application if your children or someone in your household is receiving Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits (formerly the Food Stamp Program) or Families First?  No. If your household receives assistance under SNAP (Food Stamp Program) or FAMILIES FIRST, your children will be notified of their eligibility and they will be provided free benefits for breakfast and lunch unless you notify the school that you choose to decline benefits.  If you or anyone in your household is receiving SNAP or FAMILIES FIRST and are not notified of your eligibility, contact your School Nutrition Program Director.

Who can get free meals? (1) Children whose families get SNAP (food stamps) or FAMILIES FIRST and most foster children regardless of income; and, (2) Children whose household income is within the free limits on the Federal Income Eligibility Guidelines are eligible.

Can homeless, runaway and migrant children get free meals?  If your children have not been informed that they will get free meals, you must call your school’s homeless liaison or migrant coordinator.

Can children enrolled in a school’s Head Start/Even Start Program get free meals?  If your children meet the criteria and you have not been informed that they will get free meals, you must call your School Nutrition Program Director

Who can get reduced meals? Children from families whose total household income is within the reduced price limits on the Federal Income Eligibility Guidelines can get low cost meals.

Should you fill out an application if you get a letter this school year saying your children are approved for free or reduced price meals?  Read the letter carefully and follow the instructions, or call your local School Nutrition Program Director.

If you get WIC, can your children get free meals?  Your children may be eligible for free or reduced price meals, but you will need to fill out an application.

Will the information you give be checked?  Yes, you may be asked to send written proof.

If you do not qualify now, may you apply later?  Yes.  You may apply at any time during the school year if your household size goes up, income goes down, or if you start getting SNAP (Food Stamps), FAMILIES FIRST, or other benefits.  If you lose your job, your children may be able to get free or reduced price meals.

What if you disagree with the school’s decision once your paperwork is processed and your eligibility is determined?  You should talk to school officials, or you may also ask for a hearing by calling or writing the school officials.

May you apply if someone in your household is not a U. S. citizen?  Yes. You or your children do not have to be U. S. citizens to qualify for free or reduced price meals.

Who should you include as members of your household?  You must include all people living in your household, related or not (such as grandparents, other relatives, or friends).  You must include yourself and all children who live with you.

What if your income is not always the same?  You must list the amount that you normally get.  If you normally get overtime, include it.  But if you do not normally get it, do not include it.

If you are in the military, do you include your housing allowance as income?  If your housing is part of the Military Housing Privatization Initiative, do not include your housing allowance as income.  All other allowances must be included in your gross income.

How will your children be treated if they receive free or reduced meal benefits?  Children receiving free or reduced price meals are treated the same as children who pay for their meals. “In accordance with Federal law and U. S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) policy, this institution is prohibited from discriminating on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex, age, or disability. To file a complaint of discrimination, write to USDA, Director, Office of Civil Rights, 1400 Independence Avenue, SW, Washington, DC 20250-9410 or call 800-795-3272 or 202-720-6382 (TTY). USDA is an equal opportunity provider and employer.”

For more information contact Amanda Anderson at 615-532-7817 or Amanda Anderson@state.tn.us.

The USDA is an equal opportunity provider and employer.

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