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Georgia Department of Education’s School Nutrition Program and USDA Announce 2010-2011 Guidelines for Free and Reduced-Price Meals

MEDIA CONTACT: Matt Cardoza, GaDOE Communications Office, (404) 651-7358,  - Follow us on  Twitter  and  Facebook     September 10, 2010  -- The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) has announced the 2010-2011 income guidelines for free and reduced-price meals 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 SNAP (formerly known as Food Stamps) 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 are to 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-priced meals. Students from households with incomes at or below the levels shown on the accompanying chart are eligible for free or reduced-price meals.   Foster children may be eligible regardless of the income of the household where they reside. A foster child’s eligibility is based on the child’s personal use income. In addition, students from households receiving SNAP or TANF who were not identified during the statewide direct certification process may be approved on the basis of the household’s eligibility for those programs. Please notify the school if additional children reside in the household.   In order for school officials to determine eligibility, households receiving SNAP or TANF are required only to list the child’s name and his or her SNAP or TANF case number and provide a signature of an adult household member. Households not receiving SNAP or TANF must list the names of all household members, the amount and source of current income by each household member including the frequency, the signature of an adult household member and the complete social security number of the adult household member who signs the application or an indication that the household member does not have one.  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.   Households are not required to report changes in household circumstances such as household size or change in income or change in 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 on the chart. 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.  In accordance with Federal law and U.S. Department of Agriculture 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.   In accordance with State and Federal law, the Georgia Department of Education prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, national origin, sex, disability, or age in its educational and employment activities. Inquiries regarding the application of these practices may be addressed to the General Counsel of the Georgia Department of Education, 2052 Twin Towers East, Atlanta, Georgia, 30334, (404) 656-2800.  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.    More Information:   Georgia’s School Nutrition Program   Free and Reduced-Price Meals Eligibility Standards Chart    Free & Reduced Price Policy