Children encouraged to participate in school meal programs

The Vermont Agency of Education Child Nutrition Programs has expanded access to free or reduced-price meals for children served under the National School Lunch Program (NSLP), the School Breakfast Program (SBP), and the After-School Snack Program (ASP).

The Agency encourages children to participate in their local school's meal program, and encourages families to complete an application for free and reduced price meal benefits.

Each school and/or central office provides free and reduced price meal applications and has a copy of the policy, which may be reviewed by any interested party.

To apply for free or reduced-price meals at any time during the year, households should fill out the application and return it to the school. Additional copies are available at the principal's office in each school or on the Child Nutrition Programs website,

The information provided on the application is confidential and will be used for the purpose of determining eligibility and may be verified at any time during the school year by school or other program officials.

For SFA officials to determine eligibility, households receiving 3SquaresVT (food stamp benefits) or Reach-Up (TANF) must list the children's names, a 3SquaresVT or Reach-Up case number, and the signature of an adult household member.

All children in households with any household member receiving benefits under assistance programs are eligible for free meals. Also, children categorized as homeless, migrant, runaway, Head Start, Even Start - and foster children, if known - are eligible for free meals.

If a family does not have 3SquaresVT or Reach-Up number, the application must have the children's names, total household members, the amount of income each member received last month, the signature of an adult household member, and the last four digits of the adult's social security number or the mark the box if he or she does not have one.

Foster children also categorically qualify for free meals/milk, regardless of the child's income.

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 levels shown above.

Any member of a household currently certified to receive 3SquaresVT and/or Reach-Up benefits will be notified of the enrolled children's eligibility and that the enrolled children will be provided free benefits unless the household notifies the SFA that it chooses to decline benefits.

If 3SquaresVT or Reach-Up households are not notified by their school of their eligibility, they will need to submit an application.

A list of schools participating in the programs is available upon request.

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