EMSD outlines free-reduced lunch program

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Ahead of the start of school this fall, the East Meadow School District put out the following public announcement regarding free or reduced lunch options for those who require emergency food assistance.

Households that currently include children who receive the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program but who are not found during the Direct Certification Matching Process, or households that currently receive Temporary Assistance to Needy Families or the Food Distribution Program on Indian Reservations must complete an application listing the child's name, a valid SNAP, TANF, or FDPIR case number and the signature of an adult household member.

Eligibility for free meal benefits based on participation in SNAP, TANF or FDPIR is extended to all children in the household. When known to the School Food Authority, households will be notified of their children’s eligibility for free meals based on their participation in the SNAP, TANF or the FDPIR programs. No application is necessary if the household was notified by the SFA their children have been directly certified. If the household is not sure if their children have been directly certified, the household should contact the school.

When known to the School Food Authority, households will be notified of any child’s eligibility for free meals based on the individual child’s designation as Other Source Categorically Eligible, as defined by law. Children are determined Other Source Categorically Eligible if they are homeless, migrant, runaway, a foster child or enrolled in Head Start or an eligible pre-kindergarten program.

If children or households receive benefits under Assistance Programs or Other Source Categorically Eligible Programs and are not listed on the notice of eligibility and are not notified by the School Food Authority of their free meal benefits, the parent or guardian should contact the school or should submit an income application.

Households with income the same or below the amounts listed above for family size may be eligible for and are urged to apply for free and/or reduced price meals (or free milk). They may do so by completing the application sent home with the letter to parents. Applications may be submitted any time during the school year to Christine Bauer at W.T. Clarke High School, who could be reached at 516-876-7439.

Households notified of their children’s eligibility must contact the School Food Authority if they choose to decline the free meal benefits. Households may apply for benefits at any time throughout the school year.

For up to 30 operating days into the new school year, or until a new eligibility determination is made, an individual child’s free or reduced price eligibility status from the previous year will continue within the same SFA. When the carryover period ends, unless the household is notified that their children are directly certified or the household submits an application that is approved, the children’s meals must be claimed at the paid rate. Though encouraged to do so, the SFA is not required to send a reminder or a notice of expired eligibility.

The information provided on the application will be confidential and will be used for determining eligibility. The names and eligibility status of participants may also be used for the allocation of funds to federal education programs. The release of information to any program or entity not specifically authorized by the National School Lunch Act will require a written consent statement from the parent or guardian.

Foster children are eligible for free meal benefits. A separate application for a foster child is no longer necessary. Foster children may be listed on the application as a member of the family where they reside. Applications must include the foster child's name and personal use income.

Under the provisions of the policy, the designated official will review applications and determine eligibility. If a parent is dissatisfied with the ruling of the designated official, he/she may make a request either orally or in writing for a hearing to appeal the decision. Dr. Patrick Pizzo, Assistant Superintendent for Business and Finance, has been designated as the Hearing Official. Hearing procedures are outlined in the policy. However, prior to initiating the hearing procedure, the parent or School Food Authority may request a conference to provide an opportunity for the parent and official to discuss the situation, present information, and obtain an explanation of the data submitted in the application or the decisions rendered. The request for a conference shall not in any way prejudice or diminish the right to a fair hearing.

Only complete applications can be approved. This includes complete and accurate information regarding: the SNAP, TANF, or FDPIR case number; the names of all household members; on an income application, the last four digits of the social security number of the person who signs the form or an indication that the adult does not have one, and the amount and source of income received by each household member. In addition, the parent or guardian must sign the application form, certifying the information is true and correct.