Student eligibility guidelines for free and reduced-price meals announced

The Iowa Department of Education, Bureau of Nutrition and Health Services has announced its policy for free and reduced-price meals for children unable to pay the full price of meals served under the National School Lunch Program, School Breakfast Program and the Afterschool Care Snack Program. State and Local school officials have adopted the family size and income criteria shown in the chart (at right) accompanying this article for determining student eligibility for meals.
Households may apply for free or reduced-price meal benefits one of four ways as listed below.
• Households whose income is at or below the levels shown are eligible for reduced-price meals or for free meals. Households may complete one application listing all children and return it to their child's school.
• Food Assistance households and children receiving benefits under the Family Investment Program (FIP) are eligible for free meals. Most children from Food Assistance and FIP households will be qualified for free meals automatically. These households will receive a letter from their children's schools notifying them of their benefits. Households that receive a letter from the school need to do nothing more for their children to receive free meals.
• Some Food Assistance and FIP households will receive a letter from the Department of Human Services (DHS) which will qualify the children listed on the letter for free meals. Parents must take this letter to the child's school to receive free meals.
• Food Assistance or FIP households receiving benefits that do not receive a letter from DHS must complete an application for their children to receive free meals.
Only complete applications will be approved by the school. 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 be qualified for free meals automatically through the State Direct Certification process. Their host family will receive notification of these benefits. Families that receive this notification from the school need to do nothing more for their foster children to receive free meals.
If a family has foster children living with them and does not receive notification and wishes to apply for such meals, instructions for making application for such children are contained on the application form. Special Supplement Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC) participants 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 in receiving benefits. If households are dissatisfied with the ruling of the officials, they may make a formal 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 school for additional information.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture prohibits discrimination against its customers, employees and applicants for employment on the basis of race, color, national origin, age, disability, sex, gender identity, religion, reprisal, and where applicable, political beliefs, marital status, familial or parental status, sexual orientation, or all or part of an individual's income is derived from any public assistance program, or protected genetic information in employment or in any program or activity conducted or funded by the Department. Not all prohibited bases will apply to all programs and/or employment activities.
Those who wish to file a Civil Rights program complaint of discrimination can complete the USDA Program Discrimination Complaint Form found online at or at any USDA office, or call (866)632-9992 to request the form. They may also write a letter containing all of the information requested in the form.
Completed complaint forms or letters can be sent by mail to U.S. Department of Agriculture, Director, Office of Adjudication, 1400 Independence Avenue SW, Washington, DC 20250-9410, by fax at 202-690-7442, or by e-mail to Individuals who are deaf, hard of hearing 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.

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, age, or religion in its programs, activities or employment practices as required by the Iowa Code section 216.6, 216.7, and 216.9. Those who have questions or grievances related to compliance with this policy by this CNP Provider may contact the Iowa Civil Rights Commission, Grimes State Office building, 400 East 14th Street, Des Moines, IA 50319-1004; phone number, 515-281-4121 or 800-457-4416; or website: