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South Dakota Ag News Headlines
Guidelines Set for Free or Reduced-Price School Meal
South Dakota Ag Connection - 08/10/2020

Child and Adult Nutrition Services in the South Dakota Department of Education announces the policy for free milk or free and reduced-price meals. The policy applies to children unable to pay the full price of meals or milk served under the National School Lunch, School Breakfast, Special Milk, and/or Child and Adult Care Food Programs (CACFP). The administrative office of each school or agency that participates in any of these federal programs has a copy of the policy available for review.

Children from families whose income is at or below the levels shown are eligible for free or reduced-price meals or milk at participating schools and agencies.

Families may apply for free or reduced-price meals or free milk for their children for school/program year 2020-21 according to guidelines effective July 1, 2020. Applications will be provided to households by the local school or agency. Families who are directly certified as eligible for free meals will receive a notice of eligibility from their school.

Schools will use the prior year's eligibility status (free, reduced-price, or paid) for up to the first 30 days of school or until a new application is approved or direct certification is obtained, whichever comes first. When the carry-over period ends, unless the household is notified that their children are directly certified, or the household submits an application that is approved, the children must pay full price for meals, and the school or agency will not send a reminder or a notice of expired eligibility.

Applications submitted to a facility that operates the CACFP are valid for a full year. Applications expire on the last day of the month one year after the application was submitted or approved.

Households that are currently on the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) or Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) will receive letters from the school indicating that their children are eligible for free school meals. These families should not complete an application for free meals. All children in a household where any household member receives benefits under TANF or SNAP are eligible for free meals. This does not apply to CACFP.

If any children were not listed on the notice of eligibility, the household should contact the school to have free meal benefits extended to them.

Families receiving commodities through the Food Distribution Program on Indian Reservations (FDPIR) can request an Interagency Action Notice that can be brought to the school in place of an application to document free meal eligibility, or they can complete an application and list the FDPIR case number. All children in a household with any household member receiving benefits under FDPIR are eligible for free meals.

If the school or agency knows of children who are homeless, runaway, foster, from a migrant household, or who are enrolled in Head Start, they will send a letter to the household telling them the children are eligible for free meals. Contact the school or agency if the household does not get a letter because these children may be eligible for free meal benefits. The household must notify the school or agency if it chooses to decline benefits.

Foster children who are under the legal custody of a foster care agency or court are eligible for free meals. Any foster child in the household is eligible for free meals regardless of income. Households may include foster children on the application, but are not required to include payments received for care of the foster child as income.

To apply for free or reduced-price meals, households should fill out the application and return it to the child's school or agency. An application must include the names of children for whom benefits are requested, all household members and their monthly income or designation that they do not have any income, and be signed by an adult household member with the last four digits of that person's social security number. Incomplete applications cannot be approved for free and reduced-price meals or milk. Additional copies are available in the school or agency office. The information provided on the application is confidential and will be used for the purpose of determining eligibility status for meals and Title I programs. The school or agency will provide additional information if it wants to use eligibility status for other purposes.

An eligibility determination is good for the whole school/program year; however, applications may be submitted at any time during the year. Contact the school or agency if a household member becomes unemployed or if the household size changes. The children from that household may be eligible for free or reduced-price meals or free milk during the time of unemployment if the household's income falls within the income eligibility guidelines. Information on any application may be verified at any time during the school/program year by school or other program officials.

If a parent or guardian is dissatisfied with the ruling on the application for eligibility, they may contact the determining official on an informal basis. If the parent or guardian wishes to make a formal appeal, an oral or written request may be made to the school or agency's hearing official for a hearing to appeal the decision.

Some schools or agencies may choose to send a special notice about the Children's Health Insurance Program to households with the application. It provides a way for school or agency personnel to know if families will allow them to use the child's eligibility status for other program benefits. The decision whether a household is eligible for meal benefits is not affected by this form.

If a child needs a special diet as prescribed by a doctor, the household should contact the school or agency's food service manager.

The income scales below are used to determine an applicant's eligibility for free or reduced-price meals if the household is at or below the guidelines.


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