Eligible Families Encouraged to Apply for the Free and Reduced Price Meal Program

For Immediate Release
August 8, 2016
Contact: Steve EdwardsCoordinator of Policy and Communications
540-662-3888 ext. 88235

Frederick County Public Schools is encouraging eligible families to apply for the Free and Reduced Meal Program. Under the program, both school breakfast and lunch are available each day for free or at a reduced price for eligible students.

Supervisor of School Nutrition Services Jennifer White says, “Food insecurity is an issue in our community and one that can impact a child’s success in school. We strongly encourage families who are eligible for the Free and Reduced Meal Program to apply each year to help ensure that all students may have access to a nutritious breakfast and lunch at school each day.”

Household size and income are used to determine eligibility for the Free and Reduced Meal Program. Children from households whose income is at or below the Federal Income Eligibility Guidelines (shown in the chart below) may be eligible for either free or reduced price meals. Children who are members of households receiving Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits (formerly the Food Stamp Program) or who receive Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) may be automatically eligible for free meals. Children who are homeless, migrant or runaway also may be automatically eligible for free meals. Foster children, who are the legal responsibility of a welfare agency or court, are eligible for free meals regardless of the income of the household in which they reside. Children who are members of households participating in WIC may also be eligible for free or reduced-price meals based on the household’s income. The table below shows the 2016-17 eligibility guidelines.

Maximum Household Income for Free Meals Household Income for Reduced Price Meals
1 $15,444 $15,444.01 - $21,978
2 $20,826 $20,826.01 - $29,637
3 $26,208 $26,208.01 - $37,326
4 $31,590 $31,590.01 - $44,955
5 $36,972 $36,972.01 - $52,614
6 $42,354 $42,354.01 - $60,273
7 $47,749 $47,749.01 - $67,951
8 $53,157 $53,147.01 - $75,647
For Each Additional Family Member - ADD $5,408 $7,696

All information collected to determine eligibility for the Free and Reduced Meal Program is kept confidential and the students who are enrolled are not singled out when receiving their meals at school. After receiving their meal, the students enrolled in the program enter the appropriate information at the checkout and no one knows they are receiving a free or reduced price meal.

Applications for the Free and Reduced Meal Program will be distributed to all households with a letter outlining the availability of the program. Applications are also available at the Frederick County Public Schools Administration Building, each Frederick County Public School and through the School Meals link under Parents & Students on the school division’s website. To apply for free and reduced price meals, households must only fill out one application and return it to the school division. Applications may be submitted at any time during the school year. The information households provide on the application will be used for determining eligibility and verification of data. Applications may be verified at any time during the school year by school or other program officials.

In order for school officials to determine eligibility for free or reduced price benefits, households receiving SNAP benefits or TANF only have to list their child(ren)'s name and SNAP or TANF case number. Households who do not list a SNAP or TANF case number, including WIC households, must list the names of all household members, the amount and frequency of the income received by each household member, and the last four digits of the social security number of the adult household member who signs the application. If the household member does not have a social security number, they must indicate that a social security number is not available. All applications must be signed by an adult household member in order to be approved.

Households that receive SNAP benefits or TANF may not have to complete an application for free or reduced price student meals. School officials will determine eligibility for free meals based on documentation, obtained directly from the Virginia Department of Social Services, that a child is a member of a household currently receiving SNAP or TANF. School officials will notify these households in writing of their eligibility. Households who are notified of their eligibility, but who do not want their children to receive free meals, must contact the school. SNAP and TANF households must complete an application if they are not notified in writing of their automatic eligibility within the first 10 days of the new school year.

Under the provisions of the Free and Reduced Meal Program, White and School Nutrition Services Specialist Jennifer Lanham will review applications and determine eligibility. Households dissatisfied with an eligibility ruling may make a formal appeal for a hearing on the decision to Assistant Superintendent for Administration Al Orndorff. The request can be made verbally by calling 540-662-3888 or by submitting a written request to: Assistant Superintendent for Administration Al Orndorff, 1415 Amherst Street, Winchester, VA 22601.

Households may apply for free or reduced price meals at any time during the school year. If a household is not eligible now but has a change, such as a decrease in household income, an increase in household size, becomes unemployed or qualifies for SNAP or TANF, the household should contact the school for an application. Such changes may make the children of the household eligible for benefits if the household's income falls at or below the Federal Income Eligibility Guidelines.

Due to the reauthorization of the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010, school lunch prices will increase by ten cents again in 2016-17. Elementary students may buy lunch for $2.60. Middle and high school students may buy lunch for $2.85. The price for school breakfast will be unchanged. All students may purchase breakfast for $1.40. Students participating in the Free and Reduced Meal Program may get free meals or get meals for the reduced price of 30 cents for breakfast and 40 cents for lunch.

Anyone with questions about the program should contact School Nutrition Service Specialist Jennifer Lanham at 540-662-3888 x88109.