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New guidelines for free, reduced meals in District 27J

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By Crystal Nelson

BRIGHTON — Parents of School District 27J can expect to see application forms for free and reduced price meals in the mail.

In a July 8 press release, the district provided income guidelines and application information family’s would need to be eligible for the programs during the 2014-15 school year. 

Only one application is required per household and the information provided on the application is confidential and will be used only for the purpose of determining eligibility and verifying data. Applications are also available on the district’s website www.sd27j.org.

District spokesman Kevin Denke said the district is required to notify parents of the stipulations and criteria for applying for free and reduced lunch and that there haven’t been any major changes in eligibility for this school year.

Parents planning to submit an application should consider these guidelines before filling out their application:

• Applicants from families receiving Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program or Food Distribution Program on Indian Reservation benefits need only to list the children’s names, name of the person receiving the program benefits, respective case number and the signature of an adult household member. Eligibility for free meals is extended to all children in the household when the application lists a case number for any household.

• All other households that would qualify based on income must show the names of all household members related or not, the amount of gross income each person receives, the frequency and source of pay, the signature of an adult household member, and the last four digits of that adults social security number – or check the box if the adult does not have a social security number. The information on the application may be verified by the school or other program officials at any time during the school year. 

• Households with children who are eligible under the homeless, migrant, or runaway programs should contact the school for assistance in receiving benefits. To complete an application, mark the relevant box to indicate the appropriate eligibility.

• Foster children who are under the legal responsibility of a foster care agency or court are eligible for free meals, regardless of income. If a family has just foster children in the home and wishes to apply for meals, they should complete the application using the instructions for households with foster children only. If a family has foster and non-foster children in the home and wishes to apply for meals, they should complete the application using the instructions for households that have foster and non-foster children in the home. Including foster children as household members may help other children in the household qualify for meal benefits.

• When known to the school district, households will be notified of their children’s eligibility for free meals if they are members of households receiving assistance from SNAP or FDPIR. If the household receives such a notice, no application is required for free meal benefits. If any children in the household were not listed on the eligibility notice, the household should contact the district to have benefits extended to that child or children.

• When known to the district, households will be notified of any child’s eligibility for free meals if the individual child is categorized as homeless, migrant, or runaway or is enrolled in an eligible Head Start or Even Start program. For any child not listed on the eligibility notice, the household should contact the district about any child also eligible under one of these programs or should submit an application for other children. 

• Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children participants may be eligible for free and reduced price meals. Please contact your school. 

 

Under the provision of the policy, 27J Nutrition Secretary DesiRae DeHerrera will review applications and determine eligibility. If a parent is dissatisfied with the decision, a request may be made to discuss it with the determining official. A formal appeal may be made either orally or in writing to Director of Nutrition Services Tony Jorstad for a hearing to appeal the decisions. The policy contains an outline of the hearing procedure and each school has a copy of the complete policy which may be reviewed by any interested party.

During the 2013-14 school year, about 47.1 percent of the district’s students received free or reduced breakfast and lunch. Denke said the district has seen a steady increase in student’s receiving free and reduced lunch since 2006-07 and that they expect that trend to continue this academic year.

Applications may be submitted at any time during the school year. If you are not eligible now but have a decrease in income, become unemployed, have an increase in family size or become eligible for SNAP or FDPIR benefits, you may fill out an application at that time. Call 303-655-2986 for additional information.