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​Georgia Announces 2016-17 Free and Reduced-Price Meal Income Guidelines

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

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July 1, 2016 The Georgia Department of Education is announcing the policy for free and reduced-price meals for children unable to pay the full price served in schools under the National School Lunch Program and/or School Breakfast Program. Local school officials have adopted the following family size and income criteria for determining eligibility.

 

 

FAMILY SIZE

COLUMN I

FREE MEALS

If Family Income is Within

COLUMN II

REDUCED-PRICE MEALS

If Family Income is Within

1

2

3

4

5

6

7

8

         0            to         15,444

         0            to         20,826

         0            to         26,208

         0            to         31,590

         0            to         36,972

         0            to         42,354

         0            to         47,749

         0            to         53,157

          15,445       to         21,978

          20,827       to         29,637

          26,209       to         37,296

          31,591       to         44,955

          36,973       to         52,614

          42,355       to         60,273

          47,750       to         67,951

          53,158       to         75,647

 

 

FOR EACH ADDITIONAL FAMILY MEMBER, ADD $5,408 PER YEAR TO THE INCOME LEVEL FOR FREE MEALS AND $7,696 TO THE INCOME LEVEL FOR REDUCED PRICE MEALS.

 

A reduced price breakfast will cost no more than $0.30 and a reduced price lunch will be no more than $0.40 per meal.

 

Application forms are being sent from local schools to all homes 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. Children from families whose income is at or below the levels shown are eligible for free or reduced-price meals.  Foster children may also be eligible for these meals.  Families with foster children should contact the school for information regarding benefits.  Additional forms are available at the principal's office in each school.  The information provided on the application will be used for the purpose of determining eligibility and may be verified at any time with each school district required to verify a sample annually.  Applications may be submitted at any time during the year.

 

For school officials to determine eligibility, households receiving Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) or Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) must list the child's name, their SNAP or TANF case number, and the signature and name of an adult household member. Households not receiving SNAP or TANF must list:  child's name, names of all household members, the last four digits of the social security number of the parent or guardian (or an indication that neither possesses a social security number), the amount of monthly income received by each household member, identified by source, and the signature of an adult household member certifying that the information provided is correct.  The 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.

 

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.

 

Under the provisions of this policy, a school official will review applications and determine eligibility. If a parent is dissatisfied with the determination, he/she may contact the school either orally or in writing.

 

The Richard B. Russell National School Lunch Act requires the information on the application. You do not have to give the information, but if you do not, your child’s application for free or reduced price meals cannot be approved. You must include the last four digits of the social security number of the adult household member who signs the application.  The last four digits of the social security number is not required when you apply on behalf of a foster child or you list a (SNAP) or (TANF) Program case number or when you indicate that the adult household member does not have a social security number. We will use your information to determine if your child is eligible for free or reduced price meals, and for administration and enforcement of the lunch and breakfast programs. We MAY share your eligibility information with education, health, and nutrition programs to help them evaluate, fund, or determine benefits for their programs, auditors for program reviews, and law enforcement officials to help them look into violations of program rules.

 

Non-Discrimination StatementIn accordance with Federal civil rights law and U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) civil rights regulations and policies, the USDA, its Agencies, offices, and employees, and institutions participating in or administering USDA programs are prohibited from discriminating based on race, color, national origin, sex, disability, age, or reprisal or retaliation for prior civil rights activity in any program or activity conducted or funded by USDA. 


Persons with disabilities who require alternative means of communication for program information (e.g. Braille, large print, audiotape, American Sign Language, etc.), should contact the Agency (State or local) where they applied for benefits.  Individuals who are deaf, hard of hearing or have speech disabilities may contact USDA through the Federal Relay Service at (800) 877-8339.  Additionally, program information may be made available in languages other than English.


To file a program complaint of discrimination, complete the
USDA Program Discrimination Complaint Form, (AD-3027) found online: http://www.ascr.usda.gov/complaint_filing_cust.html, and at any USDA office, or write a letter addressed to USDA and provide in the letter all of the information requested in the form. To request a copy of the complaint form, call (866) 632-9992. Submit your completed form or letter to USDA by: (1)mail: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Office of the Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights, 1400 Independence Avenue, SW, Washington, D.C. 20250-9410; (2) fax: (202) 690-7442; or (3) email: program.intake@usda.gov.

This institution is an equal opportunity provider.

Frequently asked questions about free and reduced-price meals:

How do I apply? You should receive an application from your child’s school. If not, please contact the school directly.

Do I need to fill out an application for each of my children? No, you need one application for all students in your household.  Return the completed application to your child’s school.

Who can get free meals? All children in households receiving benefits from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) or Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) can get free meals regardless of your income. Also, your children can get free meals if your household’s gross income is within the free limits on the Federal Income Eligibility Guidelines. Foster children that are under the legal responsibility of a foster care agency or court are eligible for free meals. Children participating in their school’s Head Start program are eligible for free meals. Children who meet the definition of homeless, runaway, or migrant are eligible for free meals. Children may receive free or reduced price meals if the household’s income is within the limits on the Federal Income Eligibility Guidelines as shown above.  

HOW DO I KNOW IF MY CHILDREN QUALIFY AS homeless, MIGRANT, OR RUNAWAY? Do the members of your household lack a permanent address? Are you staying together in a shelter, hotel, or other temporary housing arrangement? Does your family relocate on a seasonal basis? Are any children living with you who have chosen to leave their prior family or household? If you believe children in your household meet these descriptions and haven’t been told your children will get free meals, please contact your child’s school.

Should I fill out an application if I get a letter this school year saying my children are approved for free or reduced-price meals? No, but please read the letter carefully and follow the instructions. If any children in your household were missing from the letter call your local School Nutrition Program Director immediately.

My child’s application was approved last year. Do I need to fill out a new one? Yes, a new application is required each school year. Your child’s application last year was only good for the 2015-2016 school year and for the first few days of this 2016-17 school year.  You must send in a new application unless the school told you that your child is eligible for the new school year.

I get WIC. Can my children get free meals? Children in households participating in WIC may be eligible for free or reduced-price meals. Please send in an application.

Will the information I give be checked? Yes, and we may also ask you to send written proof of the household information you report.

If I do not qualify now, may I apply later? Yes, you may apply at any time during the school year. For example, children with a parent or guardian who becomes unemployed may become eligible for free and reduced-price meals if the household income drops below the income limit.

What if I disagree with the school’s decision about my application? You should speak with school officials. You also may ask for a hearing to have the decision reviewed.


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

Who should I include as members of my household? You must include all people living in your household, related or not (such as grandparents, other relatives, or friends) who share income and expenses. You must include yourself and all children who are living with you. If you live with other people who are economically independent (for example, people whom you do not support, whom do not share income with you or your children, and whom pay a pro-rated share of expenses), do not include them.

What if my income is not always the same? List the amount that you normally receive. For instance, if you normally make $1000 each month, but you only made $900 last month due to an unexpected reduction in hours, please include the normal amount of $1000 per month. If you normally get overtime, please also include it. If you have lost a job or had your hours or wages reduced, please use your current income.

WHAT IF SOME HOUSEHOLD MEMBERS HAVE NO INCOME TO REPORT? Household members may not receive some types of income we ask you to report on the application, or may not receive income at all. Whenever this happens, please write a 0 in the field. However, if any income fields are left empty or blank, those will also be counted as zeroes. Please be careful when leaving income fields blank, as we will assume you meant to do so.

We are in the military. do we REPORT OUR INCOME DIFFERENTLY? Your basic pay and cash bonuses must be reported as income. If you get any cash value allowances for off-base housing, food, or clothing, or receive Family Subsistence Supplemental Allowance payments, it must also be included as income. However, if your housing is part of the Military Housing Privatization Initiative, do not include your housing allowance as income. Any additional combat pay resulting from deployment is not included as income.

My family needs more help. Are there other programs we might apply for? For more information on the National School Lunch Program and School Breakfast Program, contact Nancy Rice, Director of the School Nutrition Division of the Georgia Department of Education, at nrice@doe.k12.ga.us or at (404) 651-6600.  For more information on applying for SNAP, or other assistance benefits, visit http://dfcs.dhs.georgia.gov/ or call 1+ (877) 423-4746.

For more information on School Meals Eligibility contact Theresa Latta at thlatta@doe.k12.ga.us.

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