MSDE Announces New Guidelines for Free and Reduced-Price School Meals

The Maryland State Department of Education (MSDE) recently announced revised Income Eligibility Guidelines (IEGs) for free and reduced-price school meals. The guidelines are set by the federal government and adopted by MSDE. These guidelines are used to determine eligibility for free or reduced-price meals in the child nutrition programs for the period of July 1, 2018, through June 30, 2019.

Courtesy of MSDE

According to a press release:

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) annual adjustments to the IEGs are required by Section 9 of the Richard B. Russell National School Lunch Act. The guidelines are intended to directly benefit those children most in need and are revised annually to account for changes in the Consumer Price Index.

Household size and income is the most common way to determine eligibility. For example, a child from a family of four is eligible for free school meals if the household’s current annual income is below $32,630. If the family’s annual income is between $32,630 and $46,435, the child is eligible for reduced-price meals.

United States citizenship is not required in order to obtain eligibility for free or reduced-price meals. Meal Benefit Applications will be sent home from each child’s school at the beginning of the school year. Parents and guardians should fill out the application completely and send it back to the school. Please note schools cannot approve incomplete applications. Schools will then inform households whether children qualify for free or reduced-price meals. Parents and guardians may speak with school officials concerning disagreement with the school’s decision or appeal the decision and request a fair hearing with the school district’s administrators.

Children enrolled in a Head Start program or children who are certified as homeless, migrant, runaway, foster, or children living in households that receive Food Supplement Program (FSP) or Temporary Cash Assistance (TCA) benefits are eligible for free meals and do not need to fill out an application. Some FSP and TCA households will receive a letter from their school informing them that their children are eligible for free meals. FSP and TCA households that do not receive a letter by the beginning of the school year should fill out an application. Parents and guardians from households that do not qualify for any of the programs mentioned above should also complete an application.

Parents and guardians may reapply at any time during the school year and are encouraged to do so if the household size increases, they become unemployed, income decreases, or the household qualifies for FSP or TCA.

Individuals who want more information concerning schools or facilities that participate in one of the Child Nutrition Programs should contact a Program Specialist at 410-767-0219.

Read the full press release for more information.