Families can apply
 for free, reduced-price school meals

Free and reduced-price meal applications are being accepted now at schools nationwide.

In School District 51, third- through 12th-grade students eligible for reduced-price school meals can get school breakfast for free and lunch for a reduced price of 40 cents. Breakfast and lunch are free for kindergarten through second-grade students whether they qualify for free or reduced-price meals.

School districts are reimbursed by the federal government for the cost of providing free or reduced-price meals to students as part of the National School Lunch Program. Districts are reimbursed $2.86 per free lunch and $2.46 per reduced-price lunch. Districts also are subsidized 27 cents by the federal government to provide regular-price lunches in an effort to cover part of the gap between the cost of providing school lunches and the price charged for them.

Families with a household income at or below 130 percent of the federal poverty level qualify for free school meals and families with a household income at or below 185 percent of the federal poverty level qualify for reduced-price meals. A family of one, such as an 18-year-old high school student living on his own, would qualify for free school meals with a yearly income of $14,521 or less, while the cut-off point for reduced price meals for a family of one is $20,665. The household income threshold for free meals increases by $5,148 for each additional family member and the threshold for reduced-price eligibility increases by $7,326 for each additional family member.

Income and family size are based on how many people live in one home, including non-relatives.

Application forms for free or reduced meals are provided to all families in a school registration packet and additional copies are available at every school and the District 51 Nutrition Services Office at 2280 E. Main St. Information recorded on the applications is confidential. Families have to re-apply each year.

There is no cutoff date during the school year to apply for free or reduced-price meals but Colorado schools try to gather most applications before an official enrollment count is taken each Oct. 1. That count helps determine which schools qualify for Title I funding, among other factors. Federal Title I funding is awarded to schools where more than half of students receive free or reduced-price school meals.


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