Board of Education announces free/reduced-price meals policy

The Rockford Board of Education announces its policy for free and reduced-price lunch, breakfast and after-school care snacks for those students unable to pay the full price for meals and snacks under the National School Lunch and School Breakfast Programs. The following household size and income criteria will be used for determining eligibility:

Income guidelines

The United States Department of Agriculture has issued income guidelines effective from July 1, 2004, to June 30, 2005. Contact Rockford Public Schools, 201 S. Madison St., Rockford, 61104, or 966-3110, for more information on guidelines.

Children from households that meet federal guidelines are eligible for free or reduced-price meal services.

All meals served must meet the U.S. Department of Agriculture meal requirements. However, if a child has been determined by a doctor to have disability, and the disability would prevent the child from eating the regular school meal, this school will make substitutions prescribed by the doctor. If a substitution is needed, there will be no extra charge for the meal. If you believe your child needs substitutions because of a disability, please get in touch with Rockford Public Schools for further information.

Application forms are being sent to all homes with a letter to parents or guardians. To apply for free or reduced-price meal services, households must complete the application as soon as possible, sign it and return it to the school. Additional copies of the application form are available at the principal’s office in each school. Households should answer all applicable questions on the form. An application that does not contain all the required information cannot be processed and approved by the school.

The required information is as follows:

FOOD STAMP/TANF HOUSEHOLDS: If you received a letter with an eligibility certificate for school meals, return the eligibility certificate to the school your child attends. You do not have to complete this application to receive meal benefits. Households that currently receive food stamps or Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) for their child(ren) only have to list the child(ren)’s name and food stamp or TANF case number and sign the application. Link card number cannot be used.

ALL OTHER HOUSEHOLDS: If a household’s income is at or below the level shown on the income scale, children are eligible for either free or reduced-price meal services. Households must provide the following information: (1) the names of all household members; (2) the Social Security number of the adult household member signing the application, or indicate if the adult does not have a Social Security number; (3) the amount of income each household member received last month and where it comes from (wages, child support, etc.); and (4) the signature of an adult household member.

The information on the application may be verified by school or other officials at any time during the school year.

If income information is provided and children are approved for free or reduced-price meal services, households must tell the school when their household income increases by $50 or more per month ($600 per year) or when their household size decreases. If a food stamp or TANF case number was listed, the household must tell the school when they no longer receive food stamps or TANF for their child.

Households may apply for benefits at any time during the school year. Households that are not eligible now but have a decrease in household income, an increase in household size or have a household member who becomes unemployed, should fill out an application at that time.

In certain cases, foster children are eligible for free or reduced-price meal services regardless of the household income. Households that have foster children living with them and wish to apply for free or reduced-price meal services for them should complete the application.

Households dissatisfied with the ruling of the official may wish to discuss it with the school. Households also have the right to a fair hearing. This can be done by calling or writing the following official: Linda Hernandez, Assistant Superintendent, 201 S. Madison St., Rockford, IL 61104 (966-3110).

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