Free-and-reduced price lunch overview
Children from households that meet federal income guidelines are eligible for free meals and reduced price meals at no charge to the family.
Frequently Asked Questions
Do I need to fill out an application for each child?
No. Complete the application to apply for free or reduced price meals. Use one application for all students in your household. We cannot approve an application that is not complete, so be sure to fill out all required information. Return the completed application to: Deborah Mackey, 25 Kniskern Avenue, Mechanicville, NY 12118; 518-450-4085.
Who can get free meals?
All children in households receiving benefits from SNAP, the Food Distribution Program on Indian Reservations or TANF, can get free meals regardless of your income. Also, your children can get free meals if your household’s gross income is within the free limits on the Federal Income Eligibility Guidelines.
Can foster children get free meals?
Yes, foster children that are under the legal responsibility of a foster care agency or court, are eligible for free meals. Any foster child in the household is eligible for free meals regardless of income.
Can homeless, runaway, and migrant children get free meals?
Yes, children who meet the definition of homeless, runaway or migrant qualify for free meals. If you have not been told your children will get free meals, please call or e-mail Mary Alice Hipwell at 518-664-7336 x2503, or email@example.com to see if they qualify.
Who can get reduced price meals?
Your children can get low cost meals if your household income is within the reduced price limits on the Federal Eligibility Income Chart.
Should I fill out an application if I received a letter this school year saying my children are approved for free meals?
Please read the letter you got carefully and follow the instructions. Call Deborah Mackey 25 Kniskern Avenue, Mechanicville, NY 12118; 518-450-4085 if you have questions.
My child’s application was approved last year. Do I need to fill out another one?
Yes. Your child’s application is only good for that school year and for the first 30 days of this school year. You must send in a new application unless the school told you that your child is eligible for the new school year.
I get WIC. Can my child(ren) get free meals?
Children in households participating in WIC may be eligible for free or reduced price meals. Please fill out a Free and Reduced Price Meal application.
If I don’t qualify now, may I apply later?
Yes, you may apply at any time during the school year. For example, children with a parent or guardian who becomes unemployed may become eligible for free and reduced price meals if the household income drops below the income limit.
What if I disagree with the school’s decision about my application?
You should talk to school officials. You also may ask for a hearing by calling or writing to: Jodi Birch at 518-664-5727 Ext: 2103, or 25 Kniskern Avenue, Mechanicville, NY 12118.
May I apply if someone in my household is not a U.S. citizen?
Yes. You or your child (ren) do not have to be U.S. citizens to qualify for free or reduced price meals.
Who should I include as members of my household?
You must include all people living in your household, related or not (such as grandparents, other relatives or friends) who share income and expenses. You must include yourself and all children living with you. If you live with other people who are economically independent (for example, people who you do not support, who do not share income with you or your children, and who pay a pro-rated share of expenses), do not include them.
What if my income is not always the same?
List the amount that you normally receive. For example, if you normally make $1,000 each month, but you missed some work last month and only made $900, put down that you made $1,000 per month. If you normally get overtime, include it, but do not include it if you only work overtime sometimes. If you have lost a job or had your hours or wages reduced, use your current income.
We are in the military. Do we include our housing allowance as income?
If you get an off-base housing allowance, it must be included as income. However, if your housing is part of the Military Housing Privatization Initiative, do not include your housing allowance as income.
My spouse is deployed to a combat zone. Is his/her combat pay counted as income?
No, if the combat pay is received in addition to his/her basic pay because of his/her deployment and it was not received before he/she was deployed, combat pay is not counted as income. Contact your school for more information.
My family needs more help. Are there other programs we might apply for?
To find out how to apply for SNAP or other assistance benefits, contact your local assistance office or call 1-800-342-3009.
How to Apply
To get free or reduced price meals for your children you may submit an Eligibility Letter for Free Meals received from the NYS Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance, OR carefully complete one application for your household and return it to the designated office. If you now receive Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF) for any children, or participate in the Food Distribution Program on Indian Reservations (FDPIR), the application must include the children’s names, the household food stamp, TANF or FDPIR case number and the signature of an adult household member. All children should be listed on the same application.
If you do not list a food stamp, TANF or FDPIR case number for all the children for whom you are applying, the application must include the names of everyone in the household, the amount of income each household member, and how often it is received and where it comes from. It must include the signature of an adult household member and the last four digits of that adult’s social security number, or check the box if the adult does not have a social security number. An application that is not complete cannot be approved. Contact your local Department of Social Services for your food stamp or TANF case number or complete the income portion of the application.
The benefits that you are approved for at the time of application are effective for the entire school year. You no longer need to report changes for an increase in income or decrease in household size, or if you no longer receive SNAP.
The value of any child care provided or arranged, or any amount received as payment for such child care or reimbursement for costs incurred for such care under the Child Care Development (Block Grant) Fund, should not be considered as income for this program.
This explains what to do if you believe you have been treated unfairly.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) prohibits discrimination against its customers, employees, and applicants for employment on the bases of race, color, national origin, age, disability, sex, gender identity, religion, reprisal, and where applicable, political beliefs, marital status, familial or parental status, sexual orientation, or all or part of an individual’s income is derived from any public assistance program, or protected genetic information in employment or in any program or activity conducted or funded by the Department. (Not all prohibited bases will apply to all programs and/or employment activities.)
If you wish to file a Civil Rights program complaint of discrimination, complete the USDA Program Discrimination Complaint Form (PDF), found online at http://www.ascr.usda.gov/complaint_filing_cust.html, or at any USDA office, or call 866-632-9992 to request the form. You may also write a letter containing all of the information requested in the form. Send your completed complaint form or letter to us by mail at U.S. Department of Agriculture, Director, Office of Adjudication, 1400 Independence Avenue, S.W., Washington, D.C. 20250-9410, by fax 202-690-7442 or email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Individuals who are deaf, hard of hearing or have speech disabilities and wish to file either an EEO or program complaint, please contact USDA through the Federal Relay Service at 800-877-8339 or 800-845-6136 (in Spanish).
Meal services for children with disabilities
Federal regulations require schools and institutions to serve meals at no extra charge to children with a disability which may restrict their diet. A student with a disability is defined in 7CFR Part 15b.3 of Federal regulations, as one who has a physical or mental impairment which substantially limits one or more major life activities. Major life activities are defined to include functions such as caring for one’s self, performing manual tasks, walking, seeing, hearing, speaking, breathing, learning, and working. You must request the special meals from the school and provide the school with medical certification from a medical doctor. If you believe your child needs substitutions because of a disability, please get in touch with us for further information, as there is specific information that the medical certification must contain.
The United States Department of Agriculture has approved the release of students names and eligibility status, without parent/guardian consent, to persons directly connected with the administration or enforcement of federal education programs such as Title I and the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), which are United States Department of Education programs used to determine areas such as the allocation of funds to schools, to evaluate socioeconomic status of the school’s attendance area, and to assess educational progress. Information may also be released to State health or State education programs administered by the State agency or local education agency, provided the State or local education agency administers the program, and federal State or local nutrition programs similar to the National School Lunch Program. Additionally, all information contained in the free and reduced price application may be released to persons directly connected with the administration or enforcement of programs authorized under the National School Lunch Act (NSLA) or Child Nutrition Act (CNA); including the National School Lunch and School Breakfast Programs, the Special Milk Program, the Child and Adult Care Food Program, Summer Food Service Program and the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women Infants and Children (WIC); the Comptroller General of the United States for audit purposes, and federal, State or local law enforcement officials investigating alleged violation of the programs under the NSLA or CNA.
You may apply for benefits any time during the school year. Also, if you are not eligible now, but during the school year become unemployed, have a decrease in household income, or an increase in family size you may request and complete an application at that time.
The disclosure of eligibility information not specifically authorized by the NSLA requires a written consent statement from the parent/guardian. We will let you know when your application is approved or denied.