Guidelines for free and reduced meals effective July 1


The Iowa Department of Education, Bureau of Nutrition and Health Services, 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.

Pictured (at right) is what state and local school officials have adopted the following family size and income criteria for determining eligibility.

Households may be eligible for free or reduced price meal benefits one of four ways listed below.

1. Households whose income is at or below the levels shown are eligible for reduced price meals or free meals, if they complete an Application for Free and Reduced Price School Meals/Milk. Households may complete one application listing all children and return it to your child’s school. When completing an application, only the last four digits of the social security number of the household’s primary wage earner or another adult household member is needed.

2. Food Assistance households, children receiving benefits under the Family Investment Program (FIP) and children in a few specific Medicaid programs are eligible for free or reduced price 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. No further application is necessary. 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. Households must contact the school if they choose to decline meal benefits.

3. 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.

4. Food Assistance or FIP households receiving benefits that do not receive a letter from DHS must complete an application with the abbreviated information as indicated on the application and instructions, for their children to receive free meals. When the application lists an Assistance Program’s case number for any household member, eligibility for free benefits are extended to all children in a household.