Do I need to fill out an application for each child? 

No. Complete one Free and Reduced-Price School Meals Application for all children in the household. We cannot approve an incomplete application so be sure to fill out all required information.

Who can get free meals?   

    • Income—Your children can get free or reduced-price meals if your household’s gross income (total without deductions) is within the limits described on the Federal Income Eligibility Guidelines.
    • Special Program Participants—All children in households receiving benefits from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), Food Distribution Program on Indian Reservations (FDPIR), or Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), can get free meals regardless of income. Children who attend Head Start, Early Head Start, and Even Start are also eligible for free meals.
    • Foster—Foster children under the legal responsibility of a foster care agency or court appointed guardian are eligible for free meals. A foster child is eligible for free meals regardless of the income of his or her resident household.

o   Homeless, Runaway, and Migrant Farm Worker—Children who meet the definition of homeless, runaway, or migrant farm worker qualify for free meals.

o   If you have received a letter of notification that your child is directly certified for free meals, do not complete an application, but do let the school know if any children in your household who attend school did not receive a letter. 

Should I fill out an application if I received a letter this school year saying my children are approved for free meals? 

Carefully read the letter you received and follow the instructions. Call the School Nutrition Department if you have further questions.

My child’s application was approved last year. Do I need to fill out another one? 

Yes. Your child’s application is only good for one school year and the first few days of the current school year.

I receive WIC. Can my child(ren) get free meals? 

Children in households participating in WIC may be eligible for free or reduced-price meals. Please fill out an application based on income.

I receive Medicaid/CHIPS. Can my child(ren) get free meals? 

Children in households participating in Medicaid/CHIPS may be eligible for free or reduced-price meals. Please fill out an application based on income.

What if my income is not always the same? 

List the amount that you normally receive. Even if you missed some work in the last month, put down your usual pay. If you normally get overtime pay, include it. If you have lost a job or had your hours or wages reduced, use your current income.  

Do we include our housing allowance as income if we are in the military? 

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

Is combat pay counted as income? 

No, if combat pay is received because of deployment in addition to basic pay and was not received before deployment, combat pay is not counted as income. 

May I apply if someone in my household is not a U.S. citizen? 

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

Will the information I give be checked? 

Yes. We may also ask you to send written proof.

If I don’t qualify now, may I apply later?

Yes. You may apply at any time during the school year.

If your household income or circumstances change after you have applied for the current year, you may become eligible for free or reduced-price meals. 

Who should I include as members of my household? 

You must include yourself, as well as others living with you who share income and expenses—related to you or not (grandparents, other relatives, or friends). You must include yourself and all children living with you. Do not include others who live with you who are economically independent—that is anyone you do not support, does not share income with you, and does pay a pro-rated share of expenses.

What if I disagree with the District’s decision about my application? 

You should call the Child Nutrition Department.

What is Direct Certification?

Under direct certification, school districts use information from State welfare or food stamp offices to certify children to receive free meals. To qualify, the children's families must receive food stamps through the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), or assistance from the Food Distribution Program on Indian Reservations (FDPIR).

How do you know if your Student is Direct Certified?

Direct Certification Letters are sent to the homes of pre-approved students.

If one student is Direct Certified, in a household, are the remaining students also Direct Certified?

Yes, if you receive a direct certification letter for one student in the household, and you have other siblings in the house that are not directly certified contact your school or the Food Service Department.

Why is it necessary to use the same name as it appears on the Birth Certificate?

Since the Hamblen County Department of Education uses the birth date and name information from the Birth Certificate, the only way the application can be validated is by using the same information. Clearly, nicknames and family abbreviations will slow down the application process..

Why do you list All Other Household Members?

The consideration for approval of an application is based income and the number of household members. Therefore, it is advantageous to list all member of the household.