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Free and Reduced-Price Meals: Serving Washington’s School Children

OLYMPIA — October 4, 2011 — Washington public schools play a vital role to all students in need by providing free and reduced-price meals. The application process is simple and confidential.

All households with income levels below certain amounts (see the tables below) are encouraged to apply for any or all of the following programs, which are administered by the U.S. Department of Agriculture:

  • National School Lunch Program
  • School Breakfast Program
  • Special Milk Program

The USDA charges 40 cents per reduced lunch and 30 cents per breakfast. Washington, however, pays all reduced price lunch costs for public school students in grades kindergarten through third grade, and all reduced-price breakfast costs for public school students. The Special Milk Program may provide free milk, depending upon the school, for all eligible students.

In addition, 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 automatically qualify for free meals if their school participates in federal child nutrition programs. Furthermore, foster children are eligible for free meal benefits. If a household has foster children living with them and wishes to apply for meal benefits, complete and submit an application.

Prior to the beginning of the school year, an application packet was sent to all households with students in Washington schools. The application packet, also 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.

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

Currently, 376 entities in Washington state participate in the breakfast and lunch programs: 281 public school districts, 47 private schools and 48 residential child care institutions. Schools with fewer than 25 percent of its enrolled students who qualify for free or reduced-price meals are not required to have free and reduced-price meal programs.

Participation in the Special Milk Program consists of 58 entities: two school districts, 37 private schools, 6 nonresidential child care institutions and 13 summer camps.

Participating schools and institutions must meet at least one-third of the recommendations of the 1995 Dietary Guidelines for Americans for protein, calcium, iron, vitamin A, vitamin C, and calories for lunch. In addition, no more than 30 percent of an individual's calories can come from fat, and less than 10 percent from saturated fat. Breakfasts must provide one-fourth of the Recommended Dietary Allowance for the same nutrients as listed above.

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, 2011 to June 30, 2012

Free Lunch

Household Size

Annual

Monthly

Twice Per Month

Every Two Weeks

Weekly

1

$14,157

$1,180

$590

$545

$273

2

19,123

1,594

797

736

368

3

24,089

2,008

1,004

927

464

4

29,055

2,422

1,211

1,118

559

5

34,021

2,836

1,418

1,309

655

6

38,987

3,249

1,625

1,500

750

7

43,953

3,663

1,832

1,691

846

8

48,919

4,077

2,039

1,882

941

Each add’l household member, add

+4,966

+414

+207

+191

+96


Reduced-Price Lunch

Household Size

Annual

Monthly

Twice Per Month

Every Two Weeks

Weekly

1

$20,147

$1,679

$840

$775

$388

2

27,214

2,268

1,134

1,047

524

3

34,281

2,857

1,429

1,319

660

4

41,348

3,446

1,723

1,591

796

5

48,415

4,035

2,018

1,863

932

6

55,482

4,624

2,312

2,134

1,067

7

62,549

5,213

2,607

2,406

1,203

8

69,616

5,802

2,901

2,678

1,339

Each add’l household member, add

+7,067

+589

+295

+272

+136

In accordance with Federal Law and U.S. Department of Agriculture policy, OSPI is prohibited from discriminating on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex, age, or disability.

If you believe you have been treated unfairly, you may file a complaint of discrimination by writing, 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.

 

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 does not discriminate and provides equal access to its programs and services for all persons without regard to race, color, gender, religion, creed, marital status, national origin, sexual preference/orientation, age, veteran’s status or the presence of any physical, sensory or mental disability.

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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

Assessment Communications Manager
Chris Barron
(360) 725-6032

 

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