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For Immediate Release
Thursday, August 22, 1996
Contact:Alan Safran

Free and Reduced Price Meals Available to Students in Schools and Child Care Centers

Malden - Massachusetts Education Commissioner Robert V. Antonucci announced today that children who cannot afford to pay the full price for breakfast, lunch or milk served at their school or child care center should apply immediately for free or reduced price meals.

Most public and private schools, day care and child care centers offer free and reduced price meals for eligible children. Parents and caregivers should check with their local school or day-care provider to see if the program is offered.

Last school year in Massachusetts, approximately 31.5 million free lunches and 4 million reduced price lunches were served. These figures represent an increase of more than 1 million free and reduced price lunches over the prior school year. The daily average participation in the free and reduced lunch program was approximately 196,500 children. Also, approximately 13.5 million free breakfasts and 475,000 reduced price breakfasts were served last year, to an average of approximately 77,600 children per day.

"Research shows that eating well can help students in their school work," Antonucci noted. "The free and reduced price meal program is a great way for parents and care-givers to be sure that their children are eating well at school or at day care."

The federal government uses the household size and income level to determine eligibility for free and reduced price meals and free milk. The figures shown in the chart below represent a 3.61% increase in family income threshold levels from last year. Children from households whose income is at or below the levels shown in the chart below are eligible. Foster children who are the legal responsibility of a welfare agency or court may also be eligible for benefits regardless of the income of the household in which they reside. Eligibility for a foster child is based on the child's income.

If a household receives a mailing from the Department of Transitional Assistance with an authorized lunch card (with the child's name on it), the guardian or parent may simply sign the card and return it to the child's school or day care center. The child may begin to receive the free meals - breakfast, lunch and milk - as soon as the card is returned.

Households who do not receive an mailing may still qualify. Application forms are available at the office in each school or day care center. Information provided on the applications will only be used for the purpose of determining eligibility.

Income Eligibility Guidelines
(Effective July 1, 1996 - June 30, 1997)

Explanation of how to use this chart: Go down the Family Size Column to the number in your immediate family (parents/guardians plus children) . Go across and look at the numbers under one of the family income columns beneath Free Meals. Use the column for which you know the answer. If your family makes the amount shown or less, your children qualify for free meals. If your family makes more than that amount, go across to the columns under Reduced Price Meals. If your family makes the amount shown or less, your children qualify for reduced price meals.

 Free MealsReduced Price Meals
Family SizeWeekly Family IncomeMonthly Family IncomeYearly Family IncomeWeekly Family IncomeMonthly Family IncomeYearly Family Income
For each additional family member add .....662843,406944044,847

In the operation of child feeding programs administered by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, no child will be discriminated against because of race, color, sex, national origin, age or handicap. If any member of a household believes they have been discriminated against, they should write immediately to the Secretary of Agriculture, Washington, D.C. 20250.

Last Updated: August 22, 1996
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