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MDE Announces USDA Income Guidelines for Free and Reduced Price Meals

by Patrice Guilfoyle, APR, Director of Communications | Jan 07, 2013

NEWS RELEASE

For Immediate Release: January 7, 2013

Contact: Patrice Guilfoyle, Director of Communications 601.359.3706

County Provider List

JACKSON, Miss. – The Mississippi Department of Education announces the U.S. Department of Agriculture income guidelines for free and reduced price meals served under the Child and Adult Care Food Program, At-Risk After-School Meals Program and Food Distribution Program.  Families with children or adults in facilities that operate these programs are encouraged to complete a meal application for their children or adult family members to apply for benefits.

Applications and instructions for applying for meal benefits are sent home with each student during registration or on the first day of attendance.  To apply for the meal benefits, each household should fill out the application and return it to the school, center or sponsor.  Additional copies of the application are available at the administrative office of each facility.

Adults that are enrolled in an organized Adult Day Care Center that participate in the Child and Adult Care Food Program are also encouraged to complete a meal application.  If an adult participant receives SSI, SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program), or Medicaid, the participant is automatically eligible to receive free meal benefits.

After school snack programs can operate in area eligible sites.  All children attending programs participating in the At-Risk After-School Meals Program in area eligible sites will receive free snacks.

For the school/center officials to determine eligibility, the household must report income information or provide a SNAP or TANF (Temporary Assistance to Needy Families) or FDPIR (Food Distribution Program on Indian Reservations) case number.  If the child receives TANF payments or is a member of a food stamp household, or a member of a FDPIR household, the parent or guardian has to provide only the name of the child, SNAP or TANF or FDPIR case number, and sign the application. Children, who are TANF recipients, SNAP or FDPIR households, or Head Start participants are automatically eligible to receive free meal benefits.

Meals are available at no separate charge for emergency shelters, at-risk after-school care centers, and sponsoring organizations of emergency shelters, at-risk afterschool care centers, or day care homes, adult day care and by other institutions that elect not to charge separately for meals.  For child care institutions which charge separately for meals, meals are available free or at a reduced price to children meeting the approved eligibility criteria.

Other applicants must report household income identified by source, such as earnings, welfare and alimony received by each household member.  In order for income applicants to be approved, the household must provide the following on the application:  the names of all household members; each household member’s monthly income identified by source; the signature of an adult household member certifying that the information provided is correct; and the social security number of an adult who signs the application or an indication that this adult household member does not have a social security number.  The information provided by the household is confidential and will be used only for purposes of determining eligibility and verifying data.  The information provided may be verified at any time during the year by the school/center or program officials.

Households are no longer required to report increases in household income of over $50 per month or $600 per year and decreases in household size.  If a household member becomes unemployed or if the household size increases, the household should contact the school/center/sponsor.  Such changes may make the children of the household eligible for reduced price or free meals.  Households may apply for benefits at any time during the year as circumstances change.

Children from households whose income is at or below the levels outlined in federal guidelines are eligible for free or reduced price meals. In certain cases, foster children are also eligible for meal benefits.  If a household has foster children living with them and wishes to apply for meal benefits for them, the household should contact the school/center/sponsor for more information.

Each school/center/sponsor has a copy of the approved free and reduced meal policy.  The policy indicates who is responsible for determining eligibility.  The determining official in most instances is the principal, the food service administrator, or the center director.  Each school/school district/center has an individual named as the hearing official.  Parents or guardians dissatisfied with the ruling of the determining official may wish to discuss the decision with the determining official on an informal basis.  Parents wishing to make a formal appeal may make a request either orally or in writing to the hearing official.  The school/center office or the superintendent’s office can provide you with the name, address, and phone number of the hearing official. 

“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 USDA, Director, Office of Civil Rights, 1400 Independence Avenue, SW, Washington, D.C. 20250-9410 or call (800) 795-3272 or (202) 720-6382 (TTY).  USDA is an equal opportunity provider and employer.

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