Deadline near 
for free meals 
in District 51

School District 51 families who meet income criteria can register online now at to receive free or reduced price school meals during the 2014-15 school year.

Applications are available in paper form as well at the District 51 Nutrition Services Office at 2280 E. Main St. Only one paper or online application is needed per household in order for all students in the family to be covered.

Parents will need to list all household members, gross income for each household member, how often those people are paid and who employs them, and provide the last four digits of one household member’s Social Security number on the application form. Information provided in the application will remain confidential.

Students in any grade can get free or reduced price school breakfast and lunch depending on household income. The cap for free meals starts with a base of up to $15,171 in annual household income. The cap increases by $5,278 for each additional family member beyond the head of the household.

For example, a single child in a single-parent household can qualify for free meals with a family income of $20,449 while a family with two parents and two children can make up to $31,005 per year.

The threshold for reduced price meal eligibility starts with a base annual salary of $21,590 and increases by $7,511 for each additional household member beyond the head of the household. A family of two can qualify for reduced price meals with an annual household income of $29,101, for example, and a family of four can make up to $44,123 per year.

Students who qualify for reduced price school meals get breakfast for free in all grades and lunch for free through fifth grade. Middle and high school students eligible for reduced price meals pay 40 cents per lunch.

Breakfast regularly costs $1.60 per student in all grades in District 51 while lunch is $2.60 for elementary students, $2.75 for middle school students, and $3 for high school students.

The federal government reimburses school districts $1.62 for each free breakfast and $1.32 for each reduced price breakfast, adding 31 cents in reimbursement for those meals at “severe need” schools where more than 40 percent of meals served are served to free or reduced price-eligible students. Twenty-two of the 37 schools in the district that serve breakfast and lunch meet “severe need” criteria.

Districts are reimbursed between $2.58 and $2.81 per reduced price lunch and $2.98 to $3.21 for each free lunch, depending on the percentage of eligible students.

Districts get an additional 28 cents from the federal government for every paid breakfast served and 28 to 42 cents for every paid lunch served.


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