On May 31, 2022, Governor Scott signed Act 151 of 2022 (S. 100) into law. Act 151 requires that public schools offer universal meals. The AOE has released Guidance on Implementing Act 151 (S.100) – Universal School Meals for School Year 2022-23. If you are looking for more details on this legislation, please read this guidance.
Who can get free or reduced price meals?
This year, because of Act 151, the answer to this question depends on whether your children attend a school within a Public School - School Food Authority (SFA) or an Independent School - School Food Authority (SFA). See both answers, below.
- If your children attend a school operating under a Public School - School Food Authority (SFA):
This year, all students in public schools will get free breakfast and lunch at school. But only some students qualify as “eligible” for free meals. These are:
- All children in households receiving benefits from 3SquaresVT (SNAP) or Reach Up (TANF).
- Foster children that are under the legal responsibility of a foster care agency or court.
- Children participating in their school’s Head Start program.
- Children who meet the definition of homeless, runaway, or migrant.
- Children may qualify as “eligible” for free or reduced price meals if your household’s income is within the limits on the Federal Income Eligibility Guidelines. Your children may qualify for free or reduced price meals if your household income falls at or below the limits on this chart.
- If your children attend a school operating under an Independent School - School Food Authority (SFA):
- All children in households receiving benefits from 3SquaresVT or Reach Up are eligible for free meals.
- Foster children that are under the legal responsibility of a foster care agency or court are eligible for free meals.
- Children participating in their school’s Head Start program are eligible for free meals.
- Children who meet the definition of homeless, runaway, or migrant are eligible for free meals.
- Children may receive free or reduced price meals if your household’s income is within the limits on the Federal Income Eligibility Guidelines. Your children may qualify for free or reduced price meals if your household income falls at or below the limits on this chart.
How do I know if my children qualify as homeless, migrant or runaway?
Do the members of your household lack a permanent address? Are you staying together in a shelter, hotel, or other temporary housing arrangement? Does your family relocate on a seasonal basis? Are any children living with you who have chosen to leave their prior family or household? If you believe children in your household meet these descriptions and haven’t been told your children will get free meals, please call or e-mail your school homeless liaison or migrant coordinator.
Do I need to fill out an application for each child?
No. Use one Free and Reduced Price School Meals Application for all students in your household. Applications cannot be approved if they are not complete, so be sure to fill out all required information.
Should I fill out an application if I received a letter this school year saying my children are already approved for free meals?
No, but please read the letter you got carefully and follow the instructions. If any children in your household were missing from your eligibility notification, contact your school immediately.
My child's application was approved last year. Do I need to fill out a new one?
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.
I get WIC. Are my children eligible for free meals?
Children in households participating in WIC may be eligible for free or reduced price meals; a meal application is needed. Please send in an application.
Will the information I give be checked?
Your school may contact you to ask you to send written proof of the household income you report.
If I don't qualify now, may I apply later?
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. If your income drops during the school year, please submit a new application. You do not need to submit a new application if your income increases.
What if I disagree with the school's decision about my application?
You should talk to school officials. You also may ask for a hearing by calling or writing to your Supervisory Union/School District central office.
May I apply if someone in my household is not a U.S. Citizen?
Yes. You, your children, or other household members do not have to be U.S. citizens to apply for free or reduced price meals.
What if my income is not always the same?
List the amount that you normally receive. For example, if you normally make $1000 each month, but you missed some work last month and only made $900, put down that you made $1000 per month. If you normally get overtime, include it, but do not include it if you only work overtime sometimes. If you have lost a job or had your hours or wages reduced, use your current income.
What if some household members have no income to report?
Household members may not receive some types of income we ask you to report on the application, or may not receive income at all. Whenever this happens, please write a 0 in the field. However, if any income fields are left empty or blank, those will also be counted as zeroes. Please be careful when leaving income fields blank, as we will assume you meant to do so.
We are in the military. Do we report our income differently?
Your basic pay and cash bonuses must be reported as income. If you get any cash value allowances for off-base housing, food, or clothing, or receive Family Subsistence Supplemental Allowance payments, it must also be included as income. However, if your housing is part of the Military Housing Privatization Initiative, do not include your housing allowance as income. Any additional combat pay resulting from deployment is also excluded from income.
What if there isn't enough space on the application for my family?
List any additional household members on a separate piece of paper, and attach it to your application or contact your school to receive a second application.
My family needs more help. Are there other programs we might apply for?
There are lots of programs to help provide food for your family!
- 3SquaresVT can help you buy food at grocery stores, farmers markets and online. 3SquaresVT benefits are deposited each month on an EBT card, which works like a debit card. To find out how to apply for 3SquaresVT or other assistance benefits, visit https://dcf.vermont.gov/mybenefits or call 1-800-479-6151. You can also text VFBSNAP to 85511.
- If you are pregnant or a caregiver or parent with a child under five, WIC can help with healthy foods. Text VTWIC to 85511 or call 1-800-464-4343.
- Call 2-1-1 to find out more about programs that can help. 2-1-1 can also help you if you need food right away. The 2-1-1 call center is available 24 hours a day/seven days a week.