New guide­lines an­nounced for free and re­duced-priced meals

The Dundalk Eagle - - OBITUARIES -

The Mary­land State Depart­ment of Ed­u­ca­tion (MSDE) has an­nounced re­vised In­come El­i­gi­bil­ity Guide­lines (IEGs) for free and re­duced-price school meals. The guide­lines are set by the fed­eral gov­ern­ment and adopted by MSDE. The IEGs are used to de­ter­mine el­i­gi­bil­ity for free or re­duced-price meals in child nu­tri­tion pro­grams for the pe­riod of July 1, 2020 through June 30, 2021.

The U.S. Depart­ment of Agri­cul­ture’s (USDA) an­nual ad­just­ments to the IEGs are re­quired by Sec­tion 9 of the Richard B. Rus­sell Na­tional School Lunch Act. The guide­lines are in­tended to di­rectly ben­e­fit those chil­dren most in need and are re­vised an­nu­ally to ac­count for changes in the Con­sumer Price In­dex. The IEGs were es­tab­lished by mul­ti­ply­ing the 2020 fed­eral in­come poverty guide­lines by 130 per­cent to de­ter­mine the house­hold in­come lev­els for free meal el­i­gi­bil­ity and by 185 per­cent for the re­duced-price meal el­i­gi­bil­ity in­come lev­els. The in­come lev­els are rounded up­ward to the next whole dol­lar.

House­hold size and in­come is the most com­mon way to de­ter­mine el­i­gi­bil­ity. For ex­am­ple, a child from a fam­ily of four is el­i­gi­ble for free school meals if the house­hold’s cur­rent an­nual in­come is be­low $34,060. If the fam­ily’s an­nual in­come is be­tween $34,061 and $48,470, the child is el­i­gi­ble for re­duced-price meals.

Meal Ben­e­fit Ap­pli­ca­tions will be avail­able at the be­gin­ning of the school year. Par­ents and guardians should com­plete ap­pli­ca­tions in their en­tirety and sub­mit it to the school; schools can­not ap­prove in­com­plete ap­pli­ca­tions. United States cit­i­zen­ship is not re­quired to be el­i­gi­ble for free or re­duced-price meals.

Schools will in­form house­holds whether chil­dren qual­ify for free or re­duced-price meals. Par­ents and guardians may speak with school of­fi­cials con­cern­ing dis­agree­ment with the school’s de­ci­sion or ap­peal the de­ci­sion and re­quest a hear­ing with the school dis­trict’s ad­min­is­tra­tors.

Chil­dren en­rolled in Head Start, Even Start, cer­ti­fied as home­less, mi­grant, run­away, foster, or chil­dren liv­ing in house­holds that re­ceive Food Sup­ple­ment Pro­gram (FSP) or Tem­po­rary Cash As­sis­tance (TCA) ben­e­fits are el­i­gi­ble for free meals and do not need to fill out an ap­pli­ca­tion. Some FSP and TCA house­holds will re­ceive a let­ter from the school in­form­ing them that chil­dren in the house­hold are el­i­gi­ble for free meals.

FSP and TCA house­holds that do not re­ceive a let­ter by the be­gin­ning of the school year should fill out an ap­pli­ca­tion. Other chil­dren who may be el­i­gi­ble for free or re­duced-price meals in­clude chil­dren in house­holds par­tic­i­pat­ing in the Spe­cial Sup­ple­men­tal Nu­tri­tion Pro­gram for Women, In­fants, and Chil­dren (WIC). Par­ents and guardians of these chil­dren should com­plete an ap­pli­ca­tion.

Par­ents and guardians may reap­ply at any time dur­ing the school year and are en­cour­aged to do so if the house­hold size in­creases, par­ents and guardians be­come un­em­ployed, in­come de­creases, or the house­hold qual­i­fies for FSP or TCA.

School Meals in­cludes: School Break­fast Pro­gram, Na­tional School Lunch Pro­gram, Af­ter-School Care Snack com­po­nent, and Spe­cial Milk Pro­gram. The School Meals pro­grams are ad­min­is­tered in Mary­land by the MSDE, and must meet nu­tri­tion re­quire­ments set by the USDA. Visit www.eats­mart­mary­land.org for ad­di­tional in­for­ma­tion re­gard­ing the Child Nu­tri­tion Pro­grams op­er­at­ing in Mary­land.

In­di­vid­u­als who want more in­for­ma­tion con­cern­ing schools or fa­cil­i­ties that par­tic­i­pate in one of the Child Nu­tri­tion Pro­grams should con­tact a Pro­gram Spe­cial­ist at 410-767-0219.

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