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Free and reduced price meals available

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The Minnesota Department of Education has announced the household income guidelines established by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) for free and reduced-price meals through the National School Lunch Program, School Breakfast Program and Child and Adult Care Food Program.

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The income guidelines are effective from July 1, 2009, through June 30, 2010.

Contact your school, childcare center, family childcare home or adult care center to find out whether it participates in these programs and the household income guidelines.

Schools, and childcare centers that charge for meals in addition to childcare tuition costs, will provide a form for applying for free or reduced-price meals upon request. Most participating centers and all participating family childcare homes provide meals to all enrolled participants without any separate charge.

Households with incomes that are less than or equal to the guidelines for free meals qualify for free meals. Households with incomes that are greater than the guidelines for free meals, but less than or equal to the guidelines for reduced price meals, qualify for reduced price meals.

An application to a school or childcare center can be approved if it contains complete documentation of household income, or documentation of current participation in the Minnesota Family Investment Plan, Food Assistance (Stamps), or Food Distribution Program on Indian Reservations.

Foster children usually qualify for free meals without regard to the foster parents' income. Most children enrolled in Head Start and Even Start automatically qualify for free meals.

An application to an adult care center can be approved if it contains complete documentation of household income or documentation of current participation in Medicaid, Food Assistance (Stamps), SSI, or Food Distribution on Indian Reservations.

Participating schools and centers accept applications for free or reduced-price meals at any time during the year. A household may qualify for free or reduced-price meals due to a temporary loss of income, such as a period of unemployment.

An appeal procedure is available for households whose applications are denied.

Information supplied on an application for free or reduced-price meals may be verified at any time.

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