State announces income guide for free, reduced school meals

The Vermont Agency of Education Child Nutrition Programs has announced its policy for free or reduced-price meals for children served under the National School Lunch Program, the School Breakfast Program, the NSLP Afterschool Snack Service and the Child and Adult Care Food Program. The income guidelines are effective July 1, 2019 through June 30, 2020. The following household size and income guidelines will be used to determine eligibility:

Free Meals Income Eligibility Guidelines

Household Size

Yearly

Monthly

Twice Per Month

Every Two Weeks

Weekly

1

16,237

1,354

677

625

313

2

21,983

1,832

916

846

423

3

27,729

2,311

1,156

1,067

534

4

33,475

2,790

1,395

1,288

644

5

39,221

3,269

1,635

1,509

755

6

44,967

3,748

1,874

1,730

865

7

50,713

4,227

2,114

1,951

976

8

56,459

4,705

2,353

2,172

1,086

For each additional household member add

5,746

479

240

221

111

Reduced Price Meals Income Eligibility Guidelines

Household Size

Yearly

Monthly

Twice Per Month

Every Two Weeks

Weekly

1

23,107

1,926

963

889

445

2

31,284

2,607

1,304

1,204

602

3

39,461

3,289

1,645

1,518

759

4

47,638

3,970

1,985

1,833

917

5

55,815

4,652

2,326

2,147

1,074

6

63,992

5,333

2,667

2,462

1,231

7

72,169

6,015

3,008

2,776

1,388

8

80,346

6,696

3,348

3,091

1,546

For each additional household member add

8,177

682

341

315

158

Children from households whose income is at or below the levels shown are eligible for free or reduced-price meals. Children who are eligible for reduced-price meals will receive breakfast and lunch at no additional charge through state support of school nutrition programs.

Application forms will be sent to all households with a letter to parents or guardians. To apply for free or reduced-price meals, households should fill out the application and return it to the school or program. Additional copies are available at the principal’s office in each school. The information provided on the application is confidential and will be used for the purpose of determining eligibility and may be verified at any time during the school year by school or other program officials. Applications may be submitted at any time during the year.

For School Food Authority officials to determine eligibility, households receiving 3SquaresVT (food stamp benefits) or Reach Up (TANF) must list the children’s names, a 3SquaresVT or Reach Up case number, and the signature of an adult household member.

All children in households in which any household member receives benefits under assistance programs are eligible for free meals.

Children in Other Source Categorically Eligible (i.e., children categorized as homeless, migrant, runaway, Head Start, Even Start and foster children, if known) are also eligible for free meals.

If you do not list A 3SquaresVT or a Reach Up Number, then the application must have the children’s names, total household members, the amount of income each member received last month, the signature of an adult household member, and the last four digits of the adult’s Social Security number (or the mark the box if he or she does not have one).

Foster children also categorically qualify for free meals/milk, regardless of the child’s income. If you have foster children living with you and wish to apply for such meals or milk for them, please complete the Income Guidelines for Free and Reduced Page 2 of 4 Meals (Revised: Sept. 30, 2019) application as instructed. Under the provisions of the policy, the approving official will review applications and determine eligibility.

Under the provisions of the free and reduced-price meal policy, the determining official(s), as designated by the sponsor/agency, shall review applications and determine eligibility. Parents or guardians dissatisfied with the eligibility ruling may discuss the decision with the determining official on an informal basis. Parents may also make a formal request for an appeal hearing of the decision and may do so orally or in writing with the school’s hearing official.

Parents or guardians should contact their child(ren)’s school(s) for specific information regarding the name of the determining official and/or hearing official for a specific school or district.

If a household member becomes unemployed or if the household size increases, the household should contact the school. Such changes may make the children of the household eligible for benefits if the household’s income falls at or below the levels shown above.

Direct Certification

Any member of a household currently certified to receive 3SquaresVT and/or Reach Up benefits will be notified of the enrolled children’s eligibility and that the enrolled children will be provided free benefits unless the household notifies the SFA that it chooses to decline benefits.

If 3SquaresVT or Reach Up households are not notified by their school of their eligibility, they will need to submit an application to receive benefits.

A list of schools and child and adult day care programs participating in Child Nutrition Programs is available upon request.

For more information about school meals programs, eligibility or complaint procedures, please contact: Rosie Krueger, state director of Child Nutrition Programs, at (802) 479-1246 or  mary.krueger@vermont.gov.

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About the Author: This item was edited from one or more press releases submitted to The Chester Telegraph.

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