Bridge to Benefits - SD - School Meal Program (Free/Reduced-Price School Breakfast & Lunch)
Print View
School Meal Program (Free/Reduced-Price School Breakfast & Lunch)
 
  1. What is the School Meal Program?
  2. Who can get free or reduced-price meals from the School Meal Program?
  3. Are there any resource limits for the School Meal Program?
  4. If I already get SNAP, TANF or FDPIR, or if I have a foster child, do I have to apply to get help?
  5. Where do I get an application?
  6. When can I apply?
  7. What is the application like?
  8. What else do I have to do to apply?
  9. What happens after I turn in the application?
  10. How long can I be on the School Meal Program until I have to apply again?
  11. Do I have to be a U.S. citizen to get meal benefits from the School Meal Program?
  12. I am an immigrant. If I get help from the School Meal Program, am I a public charge?
  13. Can I get help paying for breakfast also?
  14. Does it matter how long I have lived in South Dakota to get help?
  15. Do all schools have the School Meal Program?
  16. Will other kids know that my child is getting a free or reduced-price meal?

1. What is the School Meal Program?
It is a program that pays for all or part of the cost of breakfast and lunch for children at school. By offering healthy and nutritious meals, the program also helps children to learn and grow.  The program is administered by theSouth Dakota Department of Education .

2. Who can get free or reduced-price meals from the School Meal Program?
If your family is getting benefits from SNAP (formerly food stamps), TANF, or FDPIR you would be eligible for meal benefits. Otherwise, if you are not on these program, your family has to have an income below the limits to get food benefits. Some families can get free meals and others can get a reduced (lower) price on their meals.  The most you will pay for a reduced-price lunch is 40 cents and reduced price breakfast is 30 cents.

Foster children usually get free meals because their household size is considered to be one person and they usually have minimal income.  Each foster child must have a separate application.

3. Are there any resource limits for the School Meal Program?
No. This program does not look at your resources to see if you qualify. (Resources a checking or savings account or other things of value that you or your family own.)

4. If I already get SNAP, TANF or FDPIR, or if I have a foster child, do I have to apply to get help?
Maybe. If you are on these programs, you may get a letter in the summer that says you are already going to get free meals. If you don’t get a letter, or if the letter doesn’t cover all of your children, you will have to apply to get help. If you get Food Support, TANF or FDPIR, when you fill out the School Meal application you only have to write in the names of your children and your case number(s) and sign your name. If you are applying for a foster child, you only have to write the child’s name and the amount of foster care money for personal use, and sign your name. You have to fill out a new application for every foster child.

5. Where do I get an application?
You can pick one up in the office at your child’s school. It may be mailed to your household during the summer with other school papers. It is often referred to as the School Meals Benefit Application.  It consists of the letter to households, chart of income guidelines, application and instructions for completing the application.

6. When can I apply?
Even if your child was enrolled before, you must fill out a new application each school year.  Schools usually get their application packets prepared in July or early August and mail them to families prior to the beginning of the school year.  Families do not have to wait until school starts to request an application packet and can also apply any time during the school year. 

 If your income goes down, or your household size goes up, you may be able to get help — even if you didn’t qualify for help before.

7. What is the application like?
The application asks for the names of all the children and adults in your household and how much money they make each month. Household members include all people living under a single roof.  This can includes related people (grandparents, extended family) and unrelated people (foreign exchange students, boy friends, girl friends, etc.) 

The adult who fills out the application also must write his or her Social Security Number. If you don’t have a Social Security Number, you can say that and your family can still get benefits. 

Household income includes each person's income unless the income is occassional such as lawn mowing or occassional babysitting jobs.  Household children with regularily scheduled jobs would need to list their income. 

Reportable income would include money received from wages, salaries, tips, strike benefits, unemployment compensation, worker's compensation, net income from self-owned business, day care, or farm, pension, supplemental security income, veteran's payments, social security, public assistance payments, alimony/child support payments, disability benefits, cash withdrawn from savings, interest/dividends, income from estates/trusts/investments, regular contributions from persons not living in the same household, net royalties/annuities, net rental income and any other income.

8. What else do I have to do to apply?
Just turn in your application in to the school office.  The schools are required to verify a small percentage of all applications to assure families have submitted accurate information. 

9. What happens after I turn in the application?
The school will send you a letter in about two weeks letting you know if you qualify for meal benefits.

10. How long can I be on the School Meal Program until I have to apply again?
Once you are on the program, your child can get free or reduced-price meals all school year. You will have to apply every year. If your income or household size changes during the year, you do not have to tell the school, unless it is to your benefit to do so.

11. Do I have to be a U.S. citizen to get meal benefits from the School Meal Program?
No. Even if you, your children, or other people living with you are not U.S. citizens, you can still get meal benefits.

12. I am an immigrant. If I get help from the School Meal Program, am I a public charge?
No. You are not a public charge if you use the School Meal Program. Schools cannot tell USCIS (INS) if you get help.

13. Can I get help paying for breakfast also?
If your school also operates a school bereakfast program in addition to the school lunch program families only need to fill out one meal benefit application.  Eligibility status carries over for both programs.

14. Does it matter how long I have lived in South Dakota to get help?
No.

15. Do all schools have the School Meal Program?
No, but most schools do. Check with your school office!

16. Will other kids know that my child is getting a free or reduced-price meal?
No. The school has to make sure no one can tell who is getting a free or reduced-price meal.  However, sometimes children share information about their eligibility status with their friends which the school doesn't have any way to control.