Free/reduced lunch guidelines won’t change

Income eligibility guidelines for students to receive free or reduced price meals will not change for the upcoming school year.

The United States Department of Agriculture mandates income guidelines for school systems, and the amount of money a family can bring in and still have a child eligible for free or reduced price meals at school will not increase as is the case most years (for example, a family of three would qualify for free meals if it brought in no more than $24,089 per year, or would qualify for reduced price meals if it brought in no more than $34,281 per year).

Chilton County Child Nutrition Program bookkeeper Nancy Smith, who has spent 21 years with the school system, said she can’t recall a year when the income level requirements didn’t increase.

“Usually, the amount you can make goes up, but not this year,” Smith said. “We didn’t have to change anything in our system.”

About 62 percent (or about 4,800) students at Chilton County schools were on a free or reduced price meal plan last year, and Smith said CNP officials don’t expect that number to shrink.

“It’s probably going to be at least that much,” Smith said. “You really can’t tell yet, but the economic situation in Chilton County hasn’t changed that much. We expect it to be at least that high, or higher.”

Complete program guidelines, along with applications, are available at the Chilton County Board of Education off Lay Dam Road.

Students may also pick up guidelines and applications when they start school.

Those who qualified for the program last school year will be allowed to continue receiving their benefits until Sept. 14, at which point only those whose applications have been approved will be allowed to receive free or reduced price meals.

Applications are processed within 10 days.

Breakfast at Chilton County schools costs $1 for students, with those on a reduced price meal plan receiving a $0.30 discount.

Lunch costs $2.25 for students, with those on a reduced price meal plan receiving a discount of $0.40.

Those wanting more information about the Child Nutrition Program should contact Director Carol Easterling at 280-2987 or ceasterling@chilton.k12.al.us.

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