Florida releases guidelines for free and reduced-price meals this upcoming school year

·2 min read

The Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (FDACS) Food, Nutrition and Wellness Division announced guidelines for free and reduced-price meals or free milk for students unable to pay the full price under the National School Lunch, School Breakfast, and Special Milk Programs.

Children from households that meet federal guidelines are eligible for free or reduced-price meals or free milk.

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The following household size and income criteria will be used for determining eligibility:

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.

Application forms are being provided to all homes with a letter to parents or guardians.

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If a household currently receives Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) or “Temporary Assistance for Needy Families” (TANF) for any child, they only need to list the child’s name and SNAP or TANF case number and sign the application.

For all other households whose income is at or below the level shown on the income scale, children are eligible for free or reduced-price meals or free milk.

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Here are some other guidelines released:

· The information provided is confidential 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 a free meal or milk benefits regardless of the household income. If a household has foster children living with them and they wish to apply for meals or milk benefits for them, 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 food authority 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 food authority.

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Each local school food authority office has a copy of the guidelines that may be reviewed by any interested party.

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