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Free lunch program follows federal guidelines

September 12, 2013
Special to the Town Crier

Austintown Local School District this week announced its 2013-2014 program year policy for free and reduced-price meals for students unable to pay the full price of meals or milk served under the National School Lunch and School Breakfast, After School Care Snack or Special Milk Program. Each school office and the central office has a copy of the policy, which may be reviewed by any interested party.

The Federal Income Eligibility Guidelines will be used for determining eligibility. Children from families whose annual income is at or below the federal guidelines are eligible for free and reduced price meals or free milk if the school participates in the Special Milk Program.

Application forms are being distributed to all homes in a letter to parents or guardians. To apply for free and reduced-price benefits, households should fill out the application and return it to the school. Additional copies are available at the principal's office in each school. A complete application is required. Households which currently receive Special Nutrition Assistance Program Benefits (SNAP, formerly known as food stamps) or Ohio Works First funds for a child must provide the child's name, the SNAP or OWF case number and signature of an adult household member on the application. Households which do not receive SNAP or OWF funds must provide the names of all household members, the last four digits of the social security number of the adult signing the application or state "none" if the adult does not have a social security number, the amount and source of income received by each household member, (state the monthly income) and the signature of an adult household member. If any of this information is missing, the school cannot process the application.

Families with children eligible for school meals may also be eligible for free health care coverage through Medicaid and/or Ohio's Healthy Start & Healthy Families programs. These programs include coverage for doctor visits, immunizations, physicals, prescriptions, dental, vision, mental health, substance abuse and more. Call 1-800-324-8680 for more information or to request an application. Information can also be found on the web at jfs.ohio.gov/ohp/consumers/familychild.stm. Anyone who has an Ohio Medicaid card is already receiving these services.

The information provided on the application is confidential and will be used only for the purpose of determining eligibility and may be verified at any time during the school year by school or other program official. To discourage the possibility of misrepresentation, the application forms contain a statement above the space for signature certifying that all information furnished is true and correct.

Applications are being made in connection with the receipt of federal funds. Schools or other officials may check the information on the application at any time during the school year. Deliberate misrepresentation of information may subject the applicant to prosecution under applicable state and federal laws. Households will be notified of the approval or denial of benefits.

Foster children are categorically eligible for free meal benefits regardless of the household's income. If a family has foster children living with them and wishes to apply for such meals or milk for them, contact the school for more information.

Under the provision of the policy, Tascin Brooks DTR, food service director, will review applications and determine eligibility. If a parent or guardian disagrees with the decision on the application or the result of verification, the decision may be discussed with the determining official on an informal basis. If a formal appeal is desired, the household has the right to a fair hearing. A fair hearing can be requested either orally or in writing.

Households may apply for benefits any time during the school year. If a household is not currently eligible and if the household size increases or income decreases because of unemployment or other reasons, the family should contact the school to file a new application. Such changes may make the children of the family eligible for free or reduced-price benefits if the family income falls at or below the federal levels.

 
 

 

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