School meal income eligibility guidelines announced

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CSI staff | September 12, 2013

MADISON — The U.S. Department of Agriculture Food and Nutrition Services updates income eligibility guidelines every year for students to qualify for free or reduced-price school meals based on federal poverty levels.

For the 2013-14 school year, children in a household of four with income of $30,615 per year or less will qualify for free meals. If that family's income is between $30,615 and $43,568, children can receive reduced-price school meals.

The state's participating public and private schools typically provide applications for free and reduced-price school meals during registration and in the beginning weeks of the school year, though applications may be submitted at any time.

Additionally, schools use the state's direct certification program to simplify access to free meals for students from households that participate in the FoodShare or W-2 programs or for children in foster care. Parents or guardians of these students do not need to submit a paper application for free meals.

Data from the 2012-13 school year shows that 43.2 percent of public school students (358,775) were eligible for free and reduced-price school meals.

“The federal income guidelines are designed to ensure that hunger doesn't have to be part of the school day because hungry children are less likely to be eager and attentive students,” State Superintendent Tony Evers said in a news release.

“Schools that offer the national school lunch and breakfast programs help families feed their children, and because the meals are balanced for nutrition and calories, they provide important support to education and efforts to change childhood obesity rates.”

All students are eligible to eat school meals in public and private schools that participate in these programs. To receive the meals for free or reduced-price, parents or guardians complete a form, providing the names and income from all sources for all household members. All information is kept confidential.

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