Free Meals Available for 2021-22 School YearSep 02, 2021 02:04PM ● By Chuck Tashjian
Ashland Public Schools (APS) will be participating in the National School Lunch Program. As part of this program, APS will offer healthy meals every school day. For the 2021-2022 school year each child will be eligible for one free breakfast and one free lunch each school day these meals are offered.
Although meals are free this school year, APS encourages families to complete an application if they have not received a letter from Ashland Nutrition Services notifying them they are directly certified for free meals. If your application is approved, you may be eligible for additional benefits.
Qualifications for children to receive free or reduced price meals include: belonging to a household whose income is at or below the Federal Income Eligibility Guidelines, belonging to a household that receives public assistance, or if the child is homeless, migrant, runaway, foster, or participates in a Head Start or Even Start pre-K program.
Household size and income criteria are used to determine eligibility for free and reduced-price benefits if the household does not receive assistance or the children are not in the other categories mentioned above. Children can get free or reduced-price meals if the household’s gross income falls at or below the limits on the Federal Income Eligibility Guideline chart.
To apply for free or reduced-price meals, house¬holds can fill out the application and return it to the school unless the household has already received notification that their children are approved for free meals this year. Application forms are being distributed to all households with a letter informing households of the availability of free and reduced-price meals for their children and what is required to complete on the application. Applications also are avail¬able on our district website, www.ashland.k12.ma.us, and at all school main offices.
Only one application is required for all children in the household and the information provided on the appli¬ca¬tion 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 the school or other program officials. An application for free or reduced-price benefits cannot be approved unless it contains complete eligibility information as indicated on the application and instructions. In the operation of child feeding programs, no child will be discriminated against because of race, sex, color, national origin, age, or disability.
Families can apply for benefits at any time. 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 Federal Guidelines. Contact Ashland Nutrition Services at any time to request an application.
Under the provisions of the free and reduced-price policy, Lisa Beaudin, Director of Nutrition Services will review applications and determine eligibility. Parents or guardians dissatisfied with the ruling of the official may wish to 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 Christopher Mathieu, Director of Finance Ashland Public Schools, 87 West Union Street, Ashland MA, 508-881-0156
When known to Ashland Public Schools, households will be notified of their children’s eligibility for free meals if they are members of households receiving assistance from the: Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP); Food Distribution Program on Indian Reservations (FDPIR); or Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), if the State program meets Federal standards.
An application is not required for free meal benefits for Assistance Program participants and all of the children in the household are eligible for free meal benefits. If any children were not listed on the notice of eligibility, or if a household does not receive a notice of eligibility, the household should contact the school to have free meal benefits extended to them. Participants in the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC) may be eligible for free or reduced-price meals, but they will need to turn in an application including household size and total income.
When known to APS households will also be notified of any child’s eligibility for free meals if the individual child is considered “Other Source Categorically Eligible”, because the child is categorized, as defined by law as: Foster, Lisa, Migrant, Runaway, Enrolled in an eligible Head Start, or Enrolled in an eligible pre-kindergarten class.
If any children were not listed on the notice of eligibility, the household should contact the school about their eligibility through the list above, or should submit an income application. Households notified of their children’s eligibility must contact the school if the household chooses to decline the benefits. For more information, call Lisa Beaudin at 508-881-0165 or email [email protected]