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NEWS RELEASES 2008-09 :: JULY 31, 2008


USDA Releases 2008-09 Policy on Free and Reduced-Price Meals; National School Lunch Program Ensures Students Have Access to Nutritious Diet

The North Carolina Department of Public Instruction today announced the 2008-09 United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) policy on free and reduced-price meals for children enrolled in the state’s public schools. The USDA’s school meals programs help ensure all students have access to a nutritious diet.

"Research indicates that eating habits affect student performance and health," State Superintendent June Atkinson said. "Children who are hungry have difficulty concentrating and do not perform as well in the classroom as students who are well-nourished." The Child Nutrition Program offers students an affordable, high quality, nutritious breakfast, lunch and after school snack.

The federal income eligibility guidelines for July 1, 2008 through June 30, 2009 are as follows:

HOUSE-HOLD SIZE Federal Poverty Guide-lines Reduced-Price Meals Free Meals
Annual Income Annual Income Month-ly
come Twice Per Month
come Every Two Weeks
In- come
Annual In-come Month-ly
come Twice Per Month
come Every Two Weeks
We-ekly In- come
1 10,400 19,240 1,604 802 740 370 13,520 1,127 564 520 260
2 14,000 25,900 2,159 1,080 997 499 18,200 1,517 759 700 350
3 17,600 32,560 2,714 1,357 1,253 627 22,880 1,907 954 880 440
4 21,200 39,220 3,269 1,635 1,509 755 27,560 2,297 1,149 1,060 530
5 24,800 45,880 3,824 1,912 1,765 883 32,240 2,687 1,344 1,240 620
6 28,400 52,540 4,379 2,190 2.021 1,011 36,920 3,077 1,539 1,420 710
7 32,000 59,200 4,934 2,467 2,277 1,139 41,600 3,467 1,734 1,600 800
8 35,600 65,860 5,489 2,745 2,534 1,267 46,280 3,857 1,929 1,780 890
For each additional family member, add 3,600 6,660 555 278 257 129 4,680 390 195 180 90

The household size and income criteria identified above will be used to determine eligibility for free and reduced-price meal benefits. Children from households whose income is at or below the levels shown are eligible for free or reduced-price meals. Children who are members of households that are eligible to receive Food Stamp or Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF) are automatically eligible for free meals. Food Stamp/TANF families will be certified by the determining official by Direct Certification. Foster children who are the legal responsibility of a welfare agency or court also may be eligible for benefits regardless of the income of the household with whom they reside. Eligibility for the foster child is based on the child's income.

Application forms are being made available to all households. Applications also are available in the principal's office at each school. To apply for free or reduced-price meals, households must complete the application and return it to the school or to the Child Nutrition Office within the school district. The information households provide on the application will be used for the purpose of determining eligibility and verification of data. Applications may be verified at any time during the school year by school or other program officials.

Under the provisions of the free and reduced-price policy, the Child Nutrition Director in each school district will review applications and determine eligibility. Parents or guardians dissatisfied with the ruling of the official may discuss the decision with the determining official on an informal basis. Parents wishing to make a formal appeal for a hearing on the decision may make a request either orally or in writing to the school district.

If a household member becomes unemployed or if the household size increases, the household should contact the school. Such changes may make the children of the household eligible for benefits if the household's income falls at or below the levels shown above.

A list of some of the most frequently asked questions and corresponding answers is available on the NCDPI Child Nutrition Services Web site. For more information, please contact the child nutrition services director in the school district in which your child is enrolled or contact the NCDPI Communications division at 919.807.3450.


About the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction:
The North Carolina Department of Public Instruction provides leadership to 115 local public school districts and 126 charter schools serving over 1.5 million students in kindergarten through high school graduation. The agency is responsible for all aspects of the state's public school system and works under the direction of the North Carolina State Board of Education.

For more information:
NCDPI Communication and Information Division, 919.807.3450.