My child’s application was approved last year. Do I need to fill out a new one?
Yes. Eligibility for free or reduced price meals only lasts for one school year. However, eligibility for the previous year carries over for the first few days of the new school year, or until the new eligibility determination is made. Please complete a new application unless you received a letter from the school saying that your child is eligible for the upcoming 2022-2023 school year.
Do I need to fill out an application for each child?
No. Use one Free and Reduced Price School Meal Application for all students that attend school in Effingham County Schools in your household.
I received a letter from the school saying that my children were automatically approved for free meals for the 2022–2023 school year. Do I still need to complete an application?
No, but please read the letter carefully. If any children in your household were missing from your eligibility notification letter, they are also eligible for free meals, so you should contact Effingham County Schools immediately.
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 or reduced price meals if the household income drops below the income limit.
My household participates in Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program and/or Temporary Assistance for Needy Families. Are my children eligible for free meals?
All children in households are eligible for free meals when at least one household member is receiving benefits from Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, the Food Distribution Program on Indian Reservations (FDPIR), or Temporary Assistance for Needy Families. If you participate in other assistance programs, contact Effingham County Schools to see if you qualify for school meal benefits. You may qualify for free meals!
What if my household does not qualify for free or reduced price meal benefits based on income, but I have a foster child?
Foster children who are formally placed by the State welfare agency or court in a caretaker household are eligible for benefits regardless of household income.
I get WIC. Can my children get free meals?
Participation in the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children, or WIC program, does not automatically qualify your children for free or reduced price school meals. You will need to qualify based on your household income by completing this application.
My child attends Head Start. Is he/she eligible for free school meals and do I need to fill out an application?
Yes. Children enrolled in Head Start are automatically eligible for free meals. You do not need to submit an application for school meal benefits unless you are requesting benefits for other school age children in your household.
My family needs more help. Are there other programs we might apply for?
To find out how to apply for Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program or other assistance benefits, contact Effingham County Schools.
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.
Will my child or I be subject to public charge if I apply for or receive school meal benefits?
No, the non-cash benefits received through the National School Lunch Program and School Breakfast Programs are not subject to public charge consideration. In other words, you will not be deported, denied entry to the country, or denied permanent status because you apply for or receive school meal benefits.
Will the information I give be checked?
Yes, each application is reviewed by the district to determine eligibility. We may also ask you to send proof of your household’s income.
What information will I need to fill out the application?
If you have this information handy, it will make the application process fast and easy.
- If you participate in SNAP, TANF, FDPIR you will need to know your case number (not your card or account number).
- If you do not participate in any of the above assistance program, you will need to report your total household income. In that case…
- If anyone in your household has a job, you may need to reference the earnings statements or pay stubs to report your gross income, which is different than the amount in your paycheck.
- If anyone receives Social Security or retirement benefits, you may need to gather the benefit statements to report the amount and frequency of the payments.
- You may also need to reference other financial documents for additional sources of income.
Still not sure if you have everything you need? Don’t worry. Each page of the application contains detailed instructions and explanations about the information you must include, and you can gather additional information then.
Who should I include in my household?
A household is defined as a group of people, related or unrelated, that usually live together and share income and expenses.
Don't forget to include people if you support them financially, regardless of whether they earn or receive income, including:
- foster children
- children that are away at college or boarding school
- extended family members that are living with you
- foreign exchange students that are living with you
- people that are not currently living with you, but are only away on a temporary basis (like kids that are away at college)
- family members of the armed services who are away from home because they are activated or deployed
- people living away from home for an extended period of time (such as parents who live and work away from home)
- other people who stay at your house and you provide with shelter, utilities, clothing, or food
You should NOT include:
- children who do not live with you (such as children that live permanently with other relatives or friends)
- children for whom you do not have custody and therefore do not live with you (if you have joint custody, see the help question: WHAT IF I SHARE CUSTODY OF MY CHILD?
What if I share custody of my child?
If time is split between houses, both parents may apply for benefits. If the eligibility statuses are different, the highest level of benefits will apply. For example, if you qualify for free meals but your child’s other parent does not, no matter which house your child is staying at, he or she can still receive free meals. However, if either parent chooses not to have your child receive free meal benefits while residing with them then that parent may simply pay for the meals.
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. Please review the information provided in the Letter to Household on the next page of the application for more details.
What are the Income Eligibility Guidelines?
INCOME ELIGIBILITY GUIDELINES
Use the income chart below to see if you qualify for the reduced-price meal program.
Effective July 1, 2022 - June 30, 2023
||Twice per Month
||Every Two Weeks
|For EACH additional household member, add: