Natick students will receive free meals in the 2022-23 school year

NATICK, MA — Natick will participate in a new statewide pilot program offering free school meals in 2022-23. The state set aside $110 million to continue the federal government’s free school meal offer, which expired in June.

Here is more from a press release from the Natick Public Schools:

The Natick Public Schools will participate in the National School Lunch Program and the School Breakfast Program. As part of this program, all Natick Public Schools will offer healthy meals every school day. The Massachusetts legislature has provided funding to make meals available at no cost to all students during the 2022-2023 school year, regardless of household income. However, families are still required to complete a Meal Benefits Application as it provides data for key funding of academic resources and can also connect families to additional benefits. This data will also support additional funding provided by the Commonwealth for this pilot.

Requirements for children to receive free or reduced-price meals include: being in a household whose income is at or below the Federal Income Eligibility Guidelines, being in a household receiving public assistance, or if the child is homeless, are a migrant, runaway, adoptive, or participating in a Head Start or Even Start pre-K program.

Household size and income criteria are used to determine eligibility for free or reduced-price benefits if the household does not receive assistance or the children do not fall into the other categories listed above. Children can get free or reduced-price meals if your household’s gross income is at or below the limits on the Federal Income Eligibility Guidelines table.

To apply for free or reduced price meals, households may complete the application and return it to the school unless the household has already received notification that their children have been approved for free meals this year. Application forms are distributed to all households with a letter informing households of the availability of free or reduced-price meals for their children and what is required to complete the application. Applications are also available in the principal’s office at each school and on the district website.

Only one application is required for all children in the household and the information provided on the application will be used to determine eligibility and data verification. Applications may be verified at any time during the school year by school or other program officials. An application for free or reduced price benefits cannot be approved unless it contains complete eligibility information as stated on the application and instructions. In the operation of child feeding programs, no child shall be discriminated against on the basis of race, sex, color, national origin, age, or disability.

Families can apply for benefits at any time. If a household member becomes unemployed or the size of the household increases, the household should contact the school. Such changes may make children in the household eligible for benefits if the household income is at or below federal guidelines. Contact your child’s school at any time to request an application.

Under the provisions of the free and reduced price policy, the business administrator will review applications and determine eligibility. Parents or guardians who are dissatisfied with the official’s decision may wish to discuss the decision with the determining official informally. Parents who wish to file a formal appeal for a hearing on the decision may submit a request either orally or in writing to Superintendent Anna Nolin, 13 E Central Street, Natick, MA.

When NPS households know, they will be notified of their children’s eligibility for free meals if they are members of households receiving assistance from:

  • Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP);
  • Food Distribution Program on Indian Reservations (FDPIR); either
  • Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), if the state program meets federal standards.

An application for free meal benefits is not required for Assistance Program participants and all children in the household are eligible for free meal benefits. If any children are not listed on the eligibility notice, or if a household does not receive an eligibility notice, the household must contact the school to have their free meal benefits extended. Participants in the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) may be eligible for free or reduced-price meals, but must submit an application that includes household size and total income.

When NPS households learn, they will also be notified of any child’s eligibility for free meals if the individual child is deemed “categorically eligible from another source,” because the child is categorized, as defined by law as:

  • To encourage
  • Homeless,
  • Immigrant,
  • Run away,
  • Enrolled in an eligible Head Start, or
  • Enrolled in an eligible Pre-K class.

If any child is not listed on the eligibility notice, the household must contact the school about their eligibility using the list above or submit an income application.
Households notified of their child’s eligibility should contact the school if the household decides to decline benefits.

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