Free School Lunch

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Money’s tight everywhere – which means more and more children are qualifying for federally-funded free and reduced-price school lunches, as part of the National School Lunch Program.

At the onset of each school year, applications are sent out to families of enrolled students. Remember, you can apply for these meals at any point throughout the school year, so if your financial situation worsens mid-way, don’t fret. Just apply, and you’ll typically be notified within a week.

Wondering if your family is eligible? The U.S. Department of Agriculture, which oversees the National School Lunch Program, offers free and reduced lunch eligibility guidelines on its website. After clicking, select the first link for the most recent school year – which lets you download a PDF with the details. Factors include household size and income.

And remember, new measures have helped ease the stigma of free and reduced-lunch programs. There are no separate lines or special tickets to distinguish kids who receive assistance from those who don’t. Some districts give all students account codes, for instance, onto which parents can preload money for lunch. Students provide that number code whether they have a free/reduced-price lunch or not.

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