Free Meals Parent Letter 2021-22

Dear DMPS Parent or Guardian,

As your school prepares to welcome students back for the 2021-2022 school year, our staff in the Food and Nutrition Department are finalizing healthy breakfast and lunch menus and updating records. We all know that children need healthy meals to learn and Des Moines Public Schools offers healthy meals every school day.

Your school is offering no cost meals in school year 2021-2022 through the U.S.D.A.’s Seamless Summer Option. To receive a breakfast and lunch at no cost, each student must select certain food items deemed by the U.S.D.A. to be part of a healthy meal. Our staff will be available to help your students make those selections. Each student may have one breakfast and one lunch per school day.

DMPS families do not need to take additional action for their students to receive a free breakfast and lunch at school each day.

Families who qualify or may qualify for FRL
While you do not need to take any action for your student to receive meals at school, a free and reduced-price application may be needed by your school for other programs, such as P-EBT. If your child is already approved for free or reduced price meals – NO ACTION IS REQUIRED.

___________________________________________________

You may apply at www.myschoolapps.com . If you prefer a paper application, please call the Food and Nutrition office at 242-7636 and one will be mailed to you. Below are some common questions and answers to help you with the application process.

1. WHO CAN GET FREE OR REDUCED PRICE MEALS?

All children in households receiving benefits from Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP – formerly Food Assistance in Iowa), the Family Investment Program (FIP), or a few specific Medicaid programs are eligible for free or reduced price 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 at or below the limits on the Federal Income Eligibility Guidelines below. (Requires submitting an Application for Free and Reduced Price Meals.)

FEDERAL INCOME ELIGIBILITY GUIDELINES for School Year 2021-2022

2. SHOULD I FILL OUT AN APPLICATION IF I RECEIVED A LETTER THIS SCHOOL YEAR SAYING MY CHILDREN ARE ALREADY APPROVED FOR FREE OR REDUCED PRICE MEALS? No, but please read the letter carefully and follow the instructions. If any children in your household were missing from your notification,contact: Lori Emmons, Food & Nutrition Management, Des Moines Public Schools, 1225 2nd Ave, Des Moines, IA 50314; phone: 515-242-7636; e-mail: lori.emmons@dmschools.org immediately as eligibility for free or reduced price meals is extended to all school age children in a household. If you did not receive a letter from the school, but received a Free Lunch Notice from DHS, submit this letter to your children’s school. You may add any students living in your household who are not listed on the letter. Also, if someone in your household receives food assistance and you did not receive either of these letters, you may complete an application listing the case number as this will qualify all school age children in your household for free meals. If you were informed that your children will get reduced price meals automatically, see the income guidelines above and if you feel you would qualify for free meal benefits, complete an application for free and reduced price meals.

3. WHAT IF WE HAVE FOSTER CHILDREN? Households with foster and non-foster children may choose to include the foster child as a household member, as this may help other children in the household qualify for benefits. If the foster family is not eligible for free or reduced price meal benefits, that does not prevent a foster child from receiving free meal benefits.

4. 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 contact: Lori Emmons, Executive Assistant, at 515-242-7636 or lori.emmons@dmschools.org.

5. 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. We cannot approve an application unless complete eligibility information is submitted, so be sure to complete all required information.

6. 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, through October 7, 2021. You must submit a new application unless the school food and nutrition department informed you that your child is eligible for the new school year. When the carry-over period ends, unless you are notified that your children will receive free meals or you submit an application that is approved, the children must pay full price for school meals. The school is not required to send a reminder or a notice of expired eligibility.

7. I GET WIC. CAN MY CHILDREN GET FREE MEALS? Children in households participating in WIC may be eligible for free or reduced price meals. Please submit an application.

8. 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.

9. WILL THE INFORMATION I GIVE BE CHECKED? Yes. We may also ask you to send written proof of the household income you report. You are not required to provide proof with your application.

10. 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, if your household size goes up, or if you start getting SNAP, FIP or other benefits.

11. 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: Lori Emmons, Food & Nutrition Management, Des Moines Public Schools, 1225 2nd Ave, Des Moines, IA 50314; phone: 515-242-7636; lori.emmons@dmschools.org.

12. 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.

13. 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.

14. 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. There are currently no active Military Housing Projects in Iowa as found on Active Military Housing Projects website. Any additional combat pay resulting from deployment is also excluded from income.

15. DO I NEED TO PROVIDE MY SOCIAL SECURITY NUMBER?
Only the last four digits of the Social Security Number of the household’s primary wage earner or another adult household member (or an indication of “none”) is needed.

16. MY FAMILY NEEDS MORE HELP. ARE THERE OTHER
PROGRAMS WE MIGHT APPLY FOR? To find out how to apply for SNAP or other assistance benefits, contact your local assistance office or call 1-877-347-5678. Your children may be eligible for hawk-i (children’s health insurance). Go to hawk-i info for hawk-i information.

17. CAN CHILDREN WITH DISABILITIES GET FOOD SUBSTITUTIONS? If a child has a disability, as determined by a licensed medical professional, and the disability prevents the child from eating the regular school meal, the school will make substitutions prescribed by the licensed medical professional. 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. Please call the school nurse for further information.

18. DO I NEED TO REPORT MY RACE AND ETHNICITY? It is optional to complete the racial/ethnic portion of the application. However, if you do not select race or ethnicity, one will be selected for you based on visual observation.

If you have other questions or need help, call 242-7636

Sincerely,
Amanda Miller
Director of Food and Nutrition
Des Moines Public Schools