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Student eligibility guidelines for free and reduced-price meals announced


Monday, August 6, 2012

The policy for free and reduced-price school meals for children who are unable to pay the full price of meals has been released by the Iowa Department of Education’s Bureau of Nutrition and Health Services.

The meals are served through the National School Lunch Program, School Breakfast Program and the Afterschool Care Snack Program.

State and local officials have adopted family size and income criteria for determining eligibility (please see chart below).

Households may apply for free or reduced-price meal benefits one of four ways:

  • Students from households whose income is at or below the levels shown are eligible for reduced-price meals or for free meals. All children in a household may be listed on one application, which then can be returned to any one of the children’s schools.
  • Students from Food Assistance households and children who receive benefits under the Family Investment Program (FIP) are eligible for free meals. Most children from Food Assistance and FIP households will qualify for free meals automatically. These households will be notified of benefits in letters from their children’s schools. Households that receive a letter from the school district need to do nothing more to ensure their children receive free meals.
  • Some Food Assistance and FIP households will receive letters from the Iowa Department of Human Services (DHS). Children listed in the letters will qualify for free meals, but parents must first take these letters to the children’s schools.
  • Food Assistance or FIP households that receive benefits but do not receive a letter from DHS must apply for free school meals on behalf of their children.

Only complete applications will be approved by schools. Applications may be submitted at any time during the year. If a family member becomes unemployed, the family should contact the school to complete an application.

Foster children are eligible for free meal benefits. Some foster children will qualify for free meals automatically through the State Direct Certification process, and their families will be notified of these benefits. Families that are notified need to do nothing more to ensure their children receive free meals. Families with live-in foster children who are not notified but wish to apply for free meals will find instructions on the application form. Participants in the Special Supplement Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) may be eligible for free or reduced-price meals based on a completed application.

Households with children who are enrolled in the Head Start/Even Start Program or the Migrant Education Program or who are considered homeless or runaway by the school district’s homeless liaison should contact the school for assistance with benefits. Individuals who are dissatisfied with a ruling by school officials can formally appeal, either orally or in writing, to the school’s designated hearing official. The policy statement on file at the school contains an outline of the hearing procedure. School officials may verify the information in the application and that deliberate misrepresentation of information may subject the applicant to prosecution under applicable state and federal criminal statutes. Households should contact their local schools for more information.


Income Eligibility Guidelines

Effective 07-01-2012

Household Size Free Meals Reduced Price Meals
  Yearly Monthly Twice a Month Every two weeks Weekly Yearly Monthly Twice a Month Every two weeks Weekly
1 14,521 1,211 606 559 280 20,665 1,723 862 795 398
2 19,669 1,640 820 757 379 27,991 2,333 1,167 1,077 539
3 24,817 2,069 1,035 955 478 35,317 2,944 1,472 1,359 680
4 29,965 2,498 1,249 1,153 577 42,643 3,554 1,777 1,641 821
5 35,113 2,927 1,464 1,351 676 49,969 4,165 2,083 1,922 961
6 40,261 3,356 1,678 1,549 775 57,295 4,775 2,388 2,204 1,102
7 45,409 3,785 1,893 1,747 874 64,621 5,386 2,693 2,486 1,243
8 50,557 4,214 2,107 1,945 973 71,947 5,996 2,998 2,768 1,384

For each additional family member add:

5,148 429 215 198 99 7,326 611 306 282 141

Non-discrimination statement: This explains what to do if you believe you have been treated unfairly.  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 Adjudication, 1400 Independence Avenue, SW, Washington, D.C. 20250-9410, or call toll free 866-632-9992 (Voice).  Individuals who are hearing impaired or have speech disabilities may contact USDA through the Federal Relay Service at 800-877-8339 or 800-845-6136 (Spanish).  USDA is an equal opportunity provider and employer.

Iowa non-discrimination notice: It is the policy of this CNP provider not to discriminate on the basis of race, creed, color, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, national origin, disability, or religion in its programs, activities, or employment practices as required by the Iowa Code section 216.7and 216.9.  If you have questions or grievances related to compliance with this policy by this CNP Provider, please contact the Iowa Civil Rights Commission, Grimes State Office Building, 400 E. 14th St., Des Moines, IA 50319-1004; phone number 515-281-4121, 800-457-4416; website:

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Printed from the Iowa Department of Education website on November 21, 2017 at 12:17am.