Tallahassee, Fla. — Today, the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (FDACS) announced the guidelines for free and reduced-price meals or free milk for students unable to afford the full price for meals or milk served under the National School Lunch, School Breakfast, and Special Milk Programs. Children from households that meet the federal guidelines on household size and income are eligible for free or reduced-price meals or free milk.
“We’re proud to partner with USDA to serve free and reduced-price school meals to over 2 million Florida children, ensuring access to fresh foods for students throughout the state,” shared Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried. “For the many children that count on these meals, school lunches provide dependable nutrition that helps students stay focused and succeed academically.”
FDACS is the state agency that funds Florida’s school lunch program, through $1.3 billion in federal funding. In the 2018-19 school year, Florida’s schools served 286,734,316 school lunches to over 2,908,335 Florida students, of which 2,089,852 were students receiving free or reduced lunches. FDACS’ Division of Food, Nutrition and Wellness oversees the programs’ administration and works directly with schools across the state.
Each local school food authority office has a copy of the guidelines that may be reviewed by any interested party. The following household size and income criteria will be used for determining eligibility:
INCOME ELIGIBILITY GUIDELINES* LOAD BELOW:income
Application forms are being provided to all homes with a letter to parents or guardians. To apply for free or reduced-price benefits, households must complete the application as soon as possible, sign it, and return it to the school. One application should be submitted for all the students enrolled in the school food authority. 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:
SNAP/TANF HOUSEHOLDS: If a household currently receives Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) or “Temporary Assistance for Needy Families” (TANF) for any child or other household member, they need only to list the child’s name and SNAP or TANF case number, and sign the application.
ALL OTHER HOUSEHOLDS: If a household’s income is at or below the level shown on the income scale, children are eligible for free or reduced price meals or free milk. Households must provide the following information: (1) the names of all household members, (2) all household income last month and source of income received by each household member (for example, EARNINGS, WELFARE, PENSION, or OTHER). Income is all money before taxes or anything else is taken out, (3) the signature of an adult household member, and (4) the last four numbers of the Social Security number of the adult signing the application.
The information on the application for free or reduced-price meals may be verified by the school or other officials at any time during the school year.
The information households provide will be treated confidentially and will be used only for the eligibility determinations and verification of data.
Households may apply for benefits at any time during the school year. If a household is not eligible now, but has a decrease in household income, an increase in household size, or a household member becomes unemployed, an application should be filled out at that time.
Foster children are eligible for free meal or milk benefits regardless of the household income. If a household has foster children living with them and they wish to apply for meals or milk benefits for them, they should contact the school for help with the application.
Children enrolled in the Head Start/Even Start Program or the Migrant Education Program or who are considered homeless or runaway by the school district’s homeless liaison should contact the school for assistance in receiving benefits.
Under the provisions of the policy, a local school food authority official will review applications and determine eligibility. 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 which may be initiated by contacting the hearing official in the local school food authority.
In accordance with Federal civil rights law and U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) civil rights regulations and policies, the USDA, its Agencies, offices, and employees, and institutions participating in or administering USDA programs are prohibited from discriminating based on race, color, national origin, sex, gender identity (including gender expression), sexual orientation, disability, age, or reprisal or retaliation for prior civil rights activity in any program or activity conducted or funded by USDA (not all bases apply to all programs). Remedies and complaint filing deadlines vary by program or incident.
Persons with disabilities who require alternative means of communication for program information (e.g. Braille, large print, audiotape, American Sign Language, etc.), should contact the responsible Agency or USDA’s TARGET Center at (202) 720-2600 (voice and TTY) or contact USDA through the Federal Relay Service at (800) 877-8339. Additionally, program information may be made available in languages other than English.
To file a program discrimination complaint, complete the USDA Program Discrimination Complaint Form, (AD-3027) found online at: How to file a Program Discrimination Complaint, and at any USDA office, or write a letter addressed to USDA and provide in the letter all of the information requested in the form. To request a copy of the complaint form, call (866) 632-9992. Submit your completed form or letter to USDA by:
Mail: U.S. Department of Agriculture
Office of the Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights
1400 Independence Avenue, SW
Washington, D.C. 20250-9410
Fax: (202) 690-7442
USDA is an equal opportunity provider, employer, and lender.