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Eligibility requirements announced for national school lunch program

The North Carolina Department of Public Instruction has announced the 2019-20 U.S. Department of Agriculture’s policy for free and reduced-price meals for children in public schools.

To qualify for assistance for July 1 through June 30, annual income for households cannot exceed the following parameters:

  • Households of one: $16,237 for free meals, $23,107 for reduced-price meals.
  • Households of two: $21,983 for free, $31,284 for reduced-price.
  • Households of three: $27,729 for free, $39,461 for reduced-price.
  • Households of four: $33,475 for free, $47,638 for reduced-price.
  • Households of five: $39,221 for free, $55,815 for reduced-price.
  • Households of six: $44,987 for free, $63,992 for reduced-price.
  • Households of seven: $50,713 for free, $72,169 for reduced-price.
  • Households of eight: $56,459 for free, $80,349 for reduced-price.

For each additional household member, add $5,746 annually for free meals or $8,177 for reduced-price meals.

Children from households whose income is at or below prescribed levels are eligible for free or reduced-price meals. Members of households that are eligible for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program or cash assistance are automatically eligible for free meals.

Foster children who are the legal responsibility of a social services agency or court are eligible for free meal benefits regardless of household income.

The federally assisted school nutrition programs help ensure all students have access to nutritious, appealing meals at school. According to a news release, these healthy meals at school, coupled with a safe learning environment, are top priorities in North Carolina.

“Access to healthful meals at school can enhance students’ overall health and academic performance,” state Superintendent Mark Johnson said. “Children who are hungry or poorly nourished have difficulty learning and do not perform as well in the classroom as students who are well-nourished. Meals and snacks at school are healthier and more appealing than ever before.”

Applications for free and reduced-price school meals are available in the principal’s office at each school. Families receiving FNS or CA do not need to complete an application and are automatically certified.

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