Dept. of Public Instruction announces income eligibility guidelines for school, day care meals

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MADISON, Wis. (DPI NEWS RELEASE) — Each year, the U.S. Department of Agriculture Food and Nutrition Services updates income eligibility guidelines for meals served at schools and day care programs based on federal poverty levels.

The income guidelines began July 1 and will remain in effect until June 30, 2015. The guidelines apply to student eligibility for free and reduced-price school meals offered through the National School Lunch or School Breakfast programs and milk offered through the Special Milk Program as well as to reimbursement for meals served in day care centers and family child care homes participating in the Child and Adult Care Food Program.

The guidelines establish that students in a household of four with income of $31,005 per year or less qualify for free school meals. If that family’s income is between $31,005 and $44,123, children can receive reduced-price meals. The state’s participating public and private schools and day cares typically provide applications for free and reduced-price school meals during registration and in the beginning weeks of the school year. However applications may be submitted at any time. Only one application is required per household.

“Students and children are learning all the time, but hunger ought not to be part of the equation,” said State Superintendent Tony Evers. “The federal income guidelines are designed to support students and children from low-income families so they are fed and can be eager and attentive learners throughout the day.”

Based on family circumstances, certain groups are automatically eligible to receive meal benefits. Those groups include children and adults who are Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) recipients (W-2 Cash Benefits), Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP or FoodShare in Wisconsin) participants, or Food Distribution Program on Indian Reservations (FDPIR) households, adults who are Supplemental Security Income (SSI) or Medicaid participants, and directly certified foster children or children who are enrolled in Head Start, an At-Risk afterschool center, or an emergency shelter.
All students are eligible to eat school meals in public and private schools that participate in the National School Lunch or School Breakfast programs. To receive the meals for free or reduced-price, parents or guardians complete a form, providing the names and income from all sources for all household members. All information is kept confidential. Most day care centers and all family child care homes that participate in the Child and Adult Care Food Program provide meals to all enrolled participants without any separate charge. Reimbursement to the center or child care home for meals is based on household incomes of those enrolled for care. A website that lists the day care centers in Wisconsin that participate in the Child and Adult Care Food Program is available at http://fns.dpi

The goal of both school-based and child care food programs is to improve the diets of students and young children and increase the opportunity for them to eat a variety of nutritious foods. The meals and snacks served meet nutrition standards set by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).

The Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction is prohibited from discriminating on the basis of race, color, national origin, age, disability, sex, gender identity, or religion. The full nondiscrimination statement can be found online at

The U.S Department of Agriculture prohibits discrimination against its customers, employees, and applicants for employment on the bases of race, color, national origin, age, disability, sex, gender identity, religion, reprisal, and where applicable, political beliefs, marital status, familial or parental status, sexual orientation, or all or part of an individual’s income is derived from any public assistance program, or protected genetic information in employment or in any program or activity conducted or funded by the Department. (Not all prohibited bases will apply to all programs and/or employment activities.) If you wish to file a Civil Rights program complaint of discrimination, complete the USDA Program Discrimination Complaint Form, found online at, or at any USDA office, or call (866) 632-9992 to request the form. You may also write a letter containing all of the information requested in the form. Send your completed complaint form or letter to us by mail at U.S. Department of Agriculture, Director, Office of Adjudication, 1400 Independence Avenue, S.W., Washington, D.C. 20250-9410, by fax (202) 690-7442 or e-mail at Individuals who are deaf, hard of hearing or have speech disabilities may contact USDA through the Federal Relay Service at (800) 877-8339; or (800) 845-6136 (Spanish). USDA is an equal opportunity provider and employer.

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