HISD offers free and reduced meals to qualifying students

August 10, 2012 8:54:54 AM PDT
The Houston Independent School District announces the policy for free and reduced-price meals served under the National School Lunch Program and School Breakfast Program for the 2012-2013 school year.

The Houston Independent School District Schools offers a choice of healthy meals each school day. Breakfast is free; lunch costs $2.25 at all elementary and secondary schools. The reduced price is $.40 for lunch at all schools. HISD students may qualify for free meals or reduced-price meals.

All meals served must meet nutrition standards as established by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. If a child has a disability, as determined by a doctor, and the disability prevents the child from eating the regular school meal, the school will make substitutions prescribed by the doctor. If a substitution is needed, there will be no extra charge for the meal. Please note, however, that the school is not required to make a substitution for a food allergy, unless it meets the definition of disability. Parents need to call the school for further information.

The household size and income criteria identified below will be used to determine eligibility for free and reduced-price benefits. Students from households whose income is at or below the levels shown are eligible for free or reduced-price meals. Foster children who are the legal responsibility of the state agency or court are eligible for free meal benefits regardless of the income of the household with whom they reside.

Application forms will be distributed to all households with a letter informing households of the availability of free and reduced-price meals for their child(ren) in each school. To apply for free and reduced-price meals, households must complete an application and return it to the school. Applications may be submitted anytime during the school year. The information households provide on the application will be used for the purpose of determining eligibility and verification of data. Applications may be verified by the school officials at any time during the school year.

For school officials to determine eligibility for free and reduced-price benefits, households receiving Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits (formerly Food Stamps) or Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), only have to list their child's name and SNAP or TANF case number. An adult household member must sign the application.

Households that do not list a SNAP or TANF case number must list the names of all household members, the amount and source of the income received by each member, and the last four digits of the social security number of the adult household member who signs the application. If the adult who signs the application does not have a social security number, the household member must indicate that a social security number is not available by checking the box "I do not have a social security number". The application must be signed by an adult household member.

Under the provisions of the free and reduced-price meal policy, Student Eligibility and Accountability's Manager, Team Leader and Clerical/Data Entry Staff will review applications and determine eligibility. Parents or guardians dissatisfied with the ruling of the official may wish to discuss the decision with the reviewing official on an informal basis. Parents wishing to make a formal appeal for a hearing on the decision may make a request either orally or in writing to: Food Services Senior Administrator, 6801 Bennington St., Houston, TX 77028, Phone: 713-491-5853.

Many students have been approved for free meals, for the school year 2012-2013 based on information provided by the Texas Health and Human Services Commission (HHSC). The households of these children were sent HISD Direct Certification Notices by U.S. Mail. These households are not to complete or return a school meal application for the child(ren) listed on the notification letter. Direct Certified students are eligible for free meals.

If a household member becomes unemployed or if the household size increases, the household should contact the school. Such changes may make the students of the household eligible for benefits if the household's income falls at or below the level determined.

Parents can complete an online application by going to: www.mealapps.houstonisd.org. Parents can prepay for their child's lunch by going to: www.parentonline.net.

The Child Nutrition office will let you know if you are approved or denied. Each school has a copy of the policy, which may be reviewed by any interested party.


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