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GaDOE and USDA Announce 2013-2014 Guidelines for Free and Reduced-Price Meals

MEDIA CONTACT: Matt Cardoza, GaDOE Communications Office, (404) 651-7358, mcardoza@gadoe.org

Sommer Delgado, GaDOE School Nutrition Program, (404) 656-2470, sdelgado@doe.k12.ga.us 

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Sept. 12, 2013 – The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) has announced the Eligibility Standards for Free and Reduced-Price Meals SY 2013-2014 served under the school breakfast and lunch programs administered by the Georgia Department of Education (GaDOE).
 
Georgia public school students who are members of households receiving Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) or Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) benefits are eligible for free meals. If those households have been notified that their children are directly certified for free meals, they do not need to apply for free or reduced-price meals. If households do not wish their children to receive free meals, they should notify the school immediately.
 
In addition, students that attend Georgia public schools and certain eligible private schools who are unable to pay the full price for their meals are encouraged to apply for free or reduced-price meals. Students from households with incomes at or below the levels shown on the accompanying chart meals are available for free or reduced-price.
 
Any foster child whose care and placement is the responsibility of the State or who is placed by a court with a caretaker household is eligible for free meals. This does not apply to informal arrangements that may exist outside of State or court-based systems.
 
In order for school officials to determine eligibility, households receiving SNAP or TANF are required only to list the child’s name and a household member’s SNAP or TANF case number and provide a signature of the adult household member. Households not receiving SNAP or TANF must list the names of all household members, the amount, frequency, and source of current income by each household member. If a household member does not have any income the no income box must be checked. The last four digits of the Social Security Number of the adult household member who signs the application are also required. If the person signing the application does not have a Social Security Number, he or she must indicate that they do not have one by checking the box.
 
Free and reduced-price applications may be submitted at any time during the school year. Application information provided by the household is confidential and will be used for the purpose of determining eligibility and verifying data. We may inform officials connected with other child nutrition, health, and education programs of the information on your form to determine benefits for those programs or for funding and/or evaluation purposes.
 
Households are not required to report changes in household circumstances such as household size or change in income or change in a SNAP or TANF program; however, the family may voluntarily report changes. 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. Free and reduced-price applications may be submitted at any time during the school year.
 
Each public school has a copy of the free and reduced-price meal policy indicating who is responsible for determining eligibility. Parents or guardians dissatisfied with the ruling of the determining official may wish to discuss the decision informally with that person. Parents or guardians wishing to make a formal appeal may make a request, either orally or in writing, to the hearing officer. The school office or the system superintendent’s office can provide the name, address, and phone number of the hearing officer.
 
The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) prohibits discrimination against its customers, employees, and applicants for employment on the bases of race, color, national origin, age, disability, sex, gender identity, religion, reprisal, and where applicable, political beliefs, marital status, familial or parental status, sexual orientation, or if all or part of an individual's income is derived from any public assistance program, or protected genetic information in employment or in any program or activity conducted or funded by the Department. (Not all prohibited bases will apply to all programs and/or employment activities.)
 
If you wish to file a Civil Rights program complaint of discrimination, complete the USDA Program Discrimination Complaint Form, found online at http://www.ascr.usda.gov/complaint_filing_cust.html, or at any USDA office, or call (866) 632-9992 to request the form. You may also write a letter containing all of the information requested in the form. Send your completed complaint form or letter to us by mail at U.S. Department of Agriculture, Director, Office of Adjudication, 1400 Independence Avenue, S.W., Washington, D.C. 20250-9410, by fax (202) 690-7442 or email at program.intake@usda.gov.
 
Individuals who are deaf, hard of hearing or have speech disabilities may contact USDA through the Federal Relay Service at (800) 877-8339; or (800) 845-6136 (in Spanish).
 
USDA is an equal opportunity provider and employer.
 
Please see attached document for Eligibility Standards for Free and Reduced-Price Meals.
 
For more information about the application process, contact the school principal, the system superintendent, or the School Nutrition Program of the Georgia Department of Education, 1662 Twin Towers East, Atlanta, Georgia 30334 (404.651.6601).