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Applications for 2019-2020 free and reduced meal programs now available

Applications for the 2019-2020 free and reduced lunch meal program are now available for parents to fill out for the upcoming school year.

Both the Oxford and Lafayette County School Districts participate in the USDA National Breakfast, Lunch and Snack Program, and meals are available to all students.

Some children will pay the full meal price, but families with low- to moderate-income households could be eligible to qualify for free or reduced-price meals. Applications can be found online at the Oxford School District’s website and Lafayette County School District families can pick up forms at the district office.

To qualify for the program, families must fill out a new application every school year, even if the student qualified for the program the year prior.

“I do feel like there are some families that aren’t aware of the program or aren’t sure how to fill (the application) out,” Jeanette Clements, nutritionist and assistant director of child nutrition at OSD, said. “Some families, they think they don’t qualify and so they don’t fill it out. But, they really might qualify depending on how many people live in that house.”

There are two ways a family could qualify for the program. One way is if they receive SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program), TANF (Temporary Assistance for Needy Families) or if the family has a foster child. If the family fits under any of those three categories, the student is eligible for free meals. A second way is if the household income meets federal eligibility requirements, then the student could eat free or at a reduced price of 40 cents per day for lunch.

Even if a student is not going to eat a school-provided lunch but could potentially qualify for the program, the family is encouraged to do so as it could potentially benefit the entire district if the child signs up.

“The higher our number of free or reduced kids are, even if they don’t eat lunch, the more funding our school gets for their academics in the classroom,” Clements said. “We want parents to fill it out even if they don’t eat lunch, because it helps our school in the academics side of it.”

Parents who fill out an application should receive a confirmation letter within two days of completing the form.