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Free and Reduced-Price Meal Programs: Serving Washington’s School Children
Eligible families are encouraged to apply

OLYMPIA — September 13, 2013 — Washington public schools play a vital role by providing free and reduced-price meals to all students in need. The application process is simple and confidential.

The following nutrition programs are administered by the U.S. Department of Agriculture:

  • National School Lunch Program provides reduced-price lunches at 40 cents each. Washington, however, pays all lunch costs for public school students in grades K‒3 eligible for reduced-price meals.
  • School Breakfast Program provides reduced-price breakfasts at 30 cents each. Washington pays all breakfast costs for public school students in grades K-12 eligible for reduced-price meals.
  • Special Milk Program may provide free milk, depending upon the school, for all eligible students.

At the beginning of the school year, an application packet was sent to all households with students in Washington schools. All households with income levels below certain thresholds (see the tables below) are encouraged to apply for any or all of the programs listed above.

All foster children are eligible for free meal benefits. If a household has foster children living with them and wish to apply for meal benefits, complete and submit an application.

Homeless and migrant students, households taking part in Food Distribution Program on Indian Reservations and students in Head Start and Early Childhood Education and Assistance Program are eligible for free meals. Contact your child’s school for more information.

The application packet, available at each school, explains where the application should be sent. Applications will be reviewed and a determination made within 10 working days of receipt of the application. Parents denied eligibility can appeal the decision by contacting their school.

Applications can be submitted any time during the school year. If a household member becomes unemployed, for example, the family should contact the school because the employment change may make children of the household eligible for free or reduced-price meals.

Each month, the Department of Social and Health Services provides the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction with a list of children who receive federal assistance through the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families or through the Basic Food Program. These students and all other students in the household automatically qualify for free meals if their school participates in federal child nutrition programs.

Households notified of their children’s eligibility must contact the school if it chooses to decline the free meal benefits.

Eligibility lasts from the date of approval up to the first 30 operating days of the next school year or until a family contacts the school or district.

If you have questions about eligibility, contact your child’s school. Currently, 363 entities in Washington state participate in the breakfast and lunch programs: 281 public school districts, 38 private schools and 44 residential child care institutions.

Schools with fewer than 25 percent of the enrolled K-4 students who qualify for free or reduced-price meals are not required to operate the National School Lunch Program. In addition, schools with fewer than 40 percent or less of enrolled students qualify for free or reduced-price meals are not required to operate the school breakfast program.

Participation in the Special Milk Program consists of 55 entities: two public school districts, 38 private schools, 4 nonresidential child care institutions and 12 summer camps.

Participating schools and institutions must follow meal patterns established by the United States Department of Agriculture for breakfast and lunch. Meal patterns reflect the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans and contain foods from specific food groups; milk, meat or meat alternate, grains, fruits, and vegetables. In addition, meals must meet standards for calories, saturated fat, sodium and trans fat.

The income eligibility guidelines listed below are used to determine the eligibility of children to receive free or reduced-price meals or free milk.

USDA CHILD NUTRITION PROGRAM INCOME GUIDELINES
July 1, 2013 to June 30, 2014

Free lunch

Household Size

Annual

Monthly

Twice per month

Every Two Weeks

Weekly

1

$14,937

$1,245

$623

$575

$288

2

20,163

1,681

841

776

388

3

25,389

2,116

1,058

977

489

4

30,615

2,552

1,276

1,178

589

5

35,841

2,987

1,494

1,379

690

6

41,067

3,423

1,712

1,580

790

7

46,293

3,858

1,929

1,781

891

8

51,519

4,294

2,147

1,982

991

For each add’l household member, add

+5,226

+436

+218

+201

+101

Reduced-price lunch

Household Size

Annual

Monthly

Twice per month

Every Two Weeks

Weekly

1

$21,257

$1,772

$ 886

$818

$409

2

28,694

2,392

1,196

1,104

552

3

36,131

3,011

1,506

1,390

695

4

43,568

3,631

1,816

1,676

838

5

51,005

4,251

2,126

1,962

981

6

58,442

4,871

2,436

2,248

1,124

7

65,879

5,490

2,745

2,534

1,267

8

73,316

6,110

3,055

2,820

1,410

For each add’l household member, add

+7,437

+620

+310

+287

+144

For more information

 

About OSPI
The Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI) is the primary agency charged with overseeing K–12 education in Washington state. Led by State School Superintendent Randy Dorn, OSPI works with the state’s 295 school districts and nine educational service districts to administer basic education programs and implement education reform on behalf of more than one million public school students.

OSPI provides equal access to all programs and services without discrimination based on sex, race, creed, religion, color, national origin, age, honorably discharged veteran or military status, sexual orientation, gender expression or identity, the presence of any sensory, mental, or physical disability, or the use of a trained dog guide or service animal by a person with a disability. Questions and complaints of alleged discrimination should be directed to the Equity and Civil Rights Director at (360) 725-6162 or P.O. Box 47200, Olympia, WA 98504-7200.

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CONTACT:
Nathan Olson
OSPI Communications Manager
(360) 725-6015

The OSPI Communications Office serves as the central point of contact for local, regional and national media covering K-12 education issues.

Communications Manager
Nathan Olson
(360) 725-6015

 

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