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Free and Reduced-Price Meals

It is important to give our children healthy and nutritious meals to improve their chances of success and improve their learning opportunities. Research indicates eating habits affect learning. The USDA’s school meals programs help ensure all students have access to nutritious meals.

Frequently Asked Questions

You should have received an application from your child’s school. If not, please contact the school directly.

No. You can use one Free and Reduced Price School Meals Application for all students in your household. Please ensure the entire application is complete. Return the completed application to one of your children’s school.

All children in households receiving benefits from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) or Families First can get free meals regardless of your income. Also, your children can receive free- or reduced-price meals if your household’s gross income is within the free limits on the Federal Income Eligibility Guidelines.

Yes, foster children that are under the legal responsibility of a foster care agency or court are eligible for free meals. Any foster child in the household is eligible for free meals regardless of income.

Yes, children who meet the definition of homeless, runaway, or migrant qualify for free meals. Check with your school, the homeless liaison, or migrant coordinator for more information and to see if your children qualify.

Your children can get low cost meals if your household income is within the reduced price limits on the Federal Eligibility Income Chart.

Please carefully read the letter you received and follow the instructions. Call your child’s school if you have questions.

Yes.  Your child’s application is only good for that school year and for the first few days of this school year.  You must send in a new application unless the school told you that your child is eligible for the new school year.

Children in households participating in WIC may be eligible for free or reduced price meals, but you will need to fill out an application.

Yes, and you may be asked to send written proof.

Yes, you may apply at any time during the school year.  For example, children with a parent or guardian who becomes unemployed may become eligible for free- and reduced-price meals if the household income drops below the income limit.

You should talk to school officials. You also may ask for a hearing to have the decision reviewed.

Yes. You or your child do not have to be U.S. citizens to qualify for free or reduced-price meals.

You must include all people living in your household, related or not (such as grandparents, other relatives, or friends) who share income and expenses.  You must include yourself and all children who are living with you. If you live with other people who are economically independent, do not include them.

List the amount that you normally receive.  If you normally get overtime, include it.  If you do not normally get it, do not include it.  If you have lost a job or had your hours or wages reduced, use your current income.

If you get an off-base housing allowance, it must be included as income. However, if your housing is part of the Military Housing Privatization Initiative, do not include your housing allowance as income.

No, if your spouse is receiving combat pay because they are deployed in addition to their basic pay and this combat pay was not received before the deployment, it is not counted as income.

For more information on the National School Lunch Program and School Breakfast Program, contact Phyllis Hodges, at Phyllis.Hodges@tn.gov or at (615) 532-4742. More information on applying for SNAP, or other assistance benefitsis available here.

Income Eligibility Guidelines

Federal Eligibility Income Chart For School Year 2017-2018
Household size Annual Monthly Twice per Month Every two weeks Weekly
1 22,311 1,860 930 859 430
2 30,044 2,504 1,252 1,156 578
3 37,777 3,149 1,575 1,453 727
4 45,510 3,793 1,897 1,751 876
5 53,243 4,437 2,219 2,048 1,024
6 60,976 5,082 2,541 2,346 1,173
7 68,709 5,726 2,863 2,643 1,322
8 76,442 6,371 3,186 2,941 1,471
Each additional person: 7,733 645 323 298 149