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Posted: February 18, 2009 4:38 p.m.

GaDOE’s school nutrition program and USDA announce 2008-2009 guidelines for free and reduced meals

In light of current economic conditions, the Newton County School System School Nutrition Department would like to remind parents and guardians about the guidelines for free and reduced price school meals. Georgia public school students who are members of households receiving food stamps or Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) benefits are eligible for free meals. If those households have been notified that their children are directly certified for free meals, they do not need to apply for free or reduced?price meals. If households do not wish their children to receive free meals, they are to notify the school immediately. In addition, students that attend Georgia public schools and certain eligible private schools who are unable to pay the full price for their meals are encouraged to apply for free or reduced priced meals. For students from households with incomes at or below the levels shown on the attached chart, meals are available for free or reduced?price. Foster children may be eligible regardless of the income of the household where they reside. A foster child’s eligibility is based on the child’s personal use income. In addition, students from households receiving food stamps or TANF who were not identified during the statewide direct certification process will be approved solely on the basis of their eligibility for those programs. In order for school officials to determine eligibility, households receiving food stamps or TANF are required only to list the child’s name and his or her food stamp or TANF case number and provide a signature of an adult household member. Households not receiving food stamps or TANF must list the names of all household members, the amount and source of current income by each household member including the frequency, the signature of an adult household member and a complete social security number of the adult household member who signs the application or an indication that the household member does not have one. The information provided by the household is confidential and will be used for the purpose of determining eligibility and verifying data. We may inform officials connected with other child nutrition,health and education programs of the information on your form to determine benefits for those programs or for funding and/or evaluation purposes. 

Households are not required to report changes in household circumstances such as household size or change in income or change in a food stamp or TANF program; however, the family may voluntarily report changes. If a household member becomes unemployed, or if the household size increases, the household should contact the school. Such changes may make the children of the household eligible for benefits if the household's income falls at or below the levels shown above. Free and reduced?price applications may be submitted at any time during the school year.  

Each public school has a copy of the free and reduced?price meal policy indicating who is responsible for determining eligibility. Parents or guardians dissatisfied with the ruling of the determining official may wish to discuss the decision informally with that person. Parents or guardians wishing to make a formal appeal may make a request, either orally or in writing, to the hearing officer. The school office or the system superintendent’s office can provide the name, address, and phone number of the hearing officer.  For more information about the application process, contact the school principal, the systemsuperintendent, or the School Nutrition Program of the Georgia Department of Education, 1662 Twin Towers East, Atlanta, Georgia 30334 (404) 651-6601. Learn more about Georgia’s School Nutrition Program: http://www.gadoe.org/fbo_nutrition.aspx 
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