Free & Reduced Price Meal Information

Information regarding free and reduced-price meals is included below. To continue directly to our online free and reduced-price meal application, click the button below.

 

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The District School Board of Pasco County participates in the National School Lunch and Breakfast Programs. Through these programs we offer free and reduced-price meals to students from families who meet certain income requirements determined by the U.S. Government. Each new school year all students that wish to participate in the free and reduced-priced meal program must submit a new free and reduced-price meal application. Students are qualified for free or reduced-price meals through three (3) different methods. The first method is through direct certification; the second is through students that are identified as a homeless or migrant student; and the third is through the free and reduced-price meal application process.

Qualification Methods

Direct Certification

 

This process involves a computer match of district students to information provided by the Department of Education, which marks students in families receiving Food Stamps, TANF (Temporary Assistance for Needy Families), and FDPIR benefits as eligible for free meals at their school sites. If you qualify, you will receive written notification on approval.

Homeless, Migrant and Runaway Students

Students that are identified by the district as Homeless, Migrant, or Runaway are entitled to free meals at their school site. For Homeless, Migrant, and Runaway students to receive free meals, the district’s Homeless, Migrant, and Runaway Liaison must certify, sign and submit a listing of students that are recognized as homeless or migrant. Food and Nutrition Services District Office must keep the student list on file at the Food and Nutrition Services District Office. These students do not have to submit a meal application.

Free and Reduced-Price Meal Application Process

Students will receive a household application for free and reduced-price meals. Only one (1) application is needed per household. Students are qualified through the application process based on the total number of household members and the combined income of the household members, or would qualify based on a Food Stamp or FDPIR case number. Students who are deemed a ‘Foster’ child would be eligible if their personal use income falls within the income guidelines.

An online version of the free and reduced-price application is also available. Completing the online version does not provide immediate response as to the child’s meal status (free, reduced, or paid), but does not allow for the application to be submitted incorrectly. This helps to ensure that online applications are error-free and helps reduced the application approval time.

Applications are available at your child's school in the office or the cafeteria, the Food and Nutrition Services District Office, and can be completed online by clicking above. Before you begin the online application process, please make sure you have your social security numbers, and/or TANF number. The system will automatically log you out if inactive for more than 10 minutes. Printed applications are available in a variety of languages. If you need a non-English application, please contact the Food and Nutrition Services Department for assistance.

Important: A new application must be completed each school year. Meal benefits begin on the day the application is processed by Food and Nutrition Services and continue throughout the school year in which the application is approved, the summer, and approximately the first thirty days of the next school year. The approval process can take approximately 5-10 business days. Parents are asked to provide your child with lunch money or a lunch from home until you have received verification of your meal benefits.

If you have any questions on how to complete the application, please call (813) 794-2740; (727) 774-2740 or (352) 524-2740 for assistance.

Free and Reduced-Price Meal Application Frequently Asked Questions

Are households required to submit meal applications?

No, households that are not interested in qualifying for free or reduced-price meals are not required to submit meal applications at their child’s school site and cannot be forced to complete an application.

Which household members should be listed on the Free and Reduced-Price Meal Application?

All household members should be listed on the meal application. All students attending Pasco County schools should be listed in Section 3 on the application. All other household members not attending a Pasco County school are listed in Section 5 on the application. Household members would include ALL family and ALL non-family members living in the same household.

How can a household determine if they may qualify for the free and reduced meal program prior to applying?

Income guidelines are printed on the back of the meal application. The guidelines represent the income and number of household members required to qualify for reduced-price meals. Families that have less income and more household members than indicated may qualify for free meals.

Must all household members list income in order to qualify for free and reduced-price meals?

All household members must list any income received according to the USDA guidelines. If a household member does not receive income, then the box indicating ‘no income’ in Section 5 must be checked.

Does a household list net income or gross income on the meal application?

Households must list their gross monthly income. Gross income is defined as all earnings received before any deductions are taken.

Why do students have to claim income on the meal application?

Students must disclose any income as part of a total household’s income, according to the Federal guidelines of the program. If a student has income from any full or part-time employment, they will need to include this in Section 3 under the “Student’s Income Only” section.

What if a household applying for the free and reduced-price meal program does not have any income to report?

Households reporting zero income will be allowed to receive free meals up to forty-five (45) calendar days. After forty-five (45) days, a household must submit a new application that includes some form of income or include a letter as to how they are able to meet monthly expenses. Households that do not submit a new application will be removed from the free and reduced-price program and students will need to begin paying for meals.

Do military households applying for free or reduced meals need to include their housing allowance as income?

No, regulations state that military families no longer need to include their housing allowance as income. This regulation applies to military families living in private and non-private housing.

Who is responsible for signing the application?

The adult household member that fills out the application must sign and date the application in Section 9 at the bottom of the application.

Does the person signing the application have to have a social security number?

No, if the person signing the application does not have a social security number they must check the box in Section 8 on the application indicating they do not have a social security number.

If the person signing the application has a social security number but does not want to list their social security number, can they still apply for free and reduced-priced meals?

If the person signing the application is completing the application to qualify for free and reduced-priced meals through household members and their income, then the person does need to give their social security number according to the USDA guidelines.

What happens to incomplete meal applications?

If a meal application is submitted for processing and is incomplete; i.e., missing an adult signature, incorrect food stamp case number, etc., a letter will be mailed to the home to notify the household that the application is incomplete. The household must submit another completed application or provide the missing information in order to further the application processing.

How long does it take to process a meal application?

According to USDA guidelines, Food and Nutrition Services has up to ten (10) working days to process an application from the date received in the Food and Nutrition Services District Office.

How will households be notified the results of the application process?

Food and Nutrition Services will notify households of the results of the application process through a letter mailed to the home within seven (7) to ten (10) working days from the time the application is received by Food and Nutrition Services.

What if a household disagrees with the results of the application process?

A household member(s) may discuss it with Food and Nutrition Services District Office. This can be done by phone or an appeal in writing to the Food and Nutrition Services District Office.

If school sites run out of meal applications, can they hand out photocopies of the meal applications as a substitute?

No, all households must complete an original meal application. All applications are scanned into a computerized database for processing. If a school site is running low, or has completely run out of meal applications, they must call Food and Nutrition Services District Office to receive more applications (813) 794-2438.

What is Direct Certification?

Direct certification is a process that involves a computer match of district students to information provided by Pasco County Health and Human Services, which marks students in households receiving TANF, FDPIR or Food Stamp benefits as eligible for free meals at their school site. Households are notified through the mail if their students qualify for free meals through direct certification. Students that are directly certified do NOT complete a free and reduced-price meal application.

Do all students in a household qualify for free meals through direct certification?

If a student in a household is not listed on the direct certification letter sent to the home, then that student does not qualify for free meals through direct certification. For various reasons, certain students within a family are sometimes excluded in the direct certification process. Households are informed on the direct certification letter to fill out the meal application packet for all students not listed on the direct certification letter.

Do Homeless, Migrant, and Runaway Students automatically receive free meals?

Yes, students that are identified by the district as homeless, migrant, or runaway are entitled to free meals at their school site. For students to receive free meals, the district’s Homeless and Migrant Liaison must certify, sign and submit a listing of students that are recognized as homeless, migrant, or runaway to the Food and Nutrition Services District Office. Food and Nutrition Services District Office must keep the student list on file for the entire school year. These students do not need to fill out meal applications. Please contact Food and Nutrition Services for more information at (813) 794-2438.

Do Foster children automatically qualify for free meals?

No, households with foster children must complete an application for each foster child living in a household. Sections 1, 3, and 9 of the Household Application must be completed. An adult social security number is NOT required, and a foster child application is treated as a household of one. The majority of foster children will qualify for free meals, if their personal use income is below the eligibility guidelines.

Do households receiving TANF, FDPIR or Food Stamps automatically qualify for free meals?

No, families receiving food stamps, TANF or FDPIR must complete a meal application, unless they have been Directly Certified. Sections 3, 4 and 9 must be filled out. A correct case number must be provided; please note that Pasco County case numbers begin with the number “1” and are 10-digits. Correct case numbers must be listed next to all student names applying for meal benefits. An adult social security number is NOT required.

If a household is participating in the WIC program (a special supplemental nutrition program for Women, Infants, and Children) do they automatically qualify for free meals?

No, households participating in WIC would need to complete a meal application. Please have the family complete a free and reduced-price meal application. Eligibility is determined based on total household size and total household gross monthly income.

How can students that are not homeless, migrant, runaway, or foster children and are from households not receiving Food Stamps, TANF or FDPIR qualify for free or reduced-price meals?

Students that are not homeless, migrant, runaway or foster children and are from households not receiving food stamps, TANF or FDPIR can qualify to receive free or reduced-price meals at their school sites by completing the Free and Reduced-Price Meal Application available at all Pasco County schools. Families only need to complete and submit one application per household. Students qualify for free or reduced-price meals based on the number of members living in a household and the combined income of all the household members.

What does a household whose economic situation changes during a school year need to do?

If a family’s total household income decreases or the numbers of household members increase; i.e., birth of a new baby, grandparents move in, etc., then a family should fill out a new meal application for the household.

What if a school administrator is aware of a student needing free or reduced-price meals, but the household will not submit an application?

If a school administrator is aware of a student needing free or reduced-price meals, but the household will not submit a free or reduced-price meal application, the school administrator can write a letter to the Food and Nutrition Services Department on behalf of the student requesting a “known-needy application” consideration. Procedures and the requirements for submitting the request are available by contacting the Food and Nutrition Services District Office at (813) 794-2438.

What if a new student at a school site is transferring from another Pasco County school and is already qualified as free or reduced? Does the student need to fill out a new application?

If the student is transferring from another Pasco County school, they do not need to complete a new application. Their meal account and status will transfer with them.

If a new student is coming from outside the school district, then the student must be given a Free and Reduced-Price Meal Application for his/her parent/guardian to complete. The application must be returned to Food and Nutrition Services for processing. New students will need to pay for meals until their meal application has been processed.

May I fax my application to the Food and Nutrition Services District Office?

No, only original applications will be accepted.

May I put my child’s nickname on the application?

No. Please write your child’s full name that was used to register him/her in school.

My children attend different Pasco County schools. How many applications do I need to complete?

Only one application listing all students living in your household is required, no matter what schools they attend. Make sure that all students are listed in Section 3 of the application.

I have a foster child. How do I apply for free or reduced meals for him/her?

Foster children must be listed on their own separate application. If you are caring for more than one foster child, you will need to complete one application per child. The only income that needs to be reported on the application is the child’s personal use income. If the child does not receive any personal use income write "0" in the income boxes.

I haven’t received notification on whether or not my application was approved. What can I do?

If you do not receive notification of eligibility, it may be due to an incomplete application. Call the Food and Nutrition Service Department at (813) 794-2437; (727) 774-2437; or (352) 524-2437 for assistance.

My household was approved for reduced price meals. What price do I have to pay for meals?

Reduced price breakfast is $0.30 daily, and reduced price lunch is $0.40 daily.

Are there any other languages available?

Applications are available in multiple languages. If you need a non-English version, please contact the Food and Nutrition Services Department for assistance.

Is there a time limit on when I can apply for free or reduced meals?

No. You may apply for free or reduced-price meal benefits at any time during the school year.

What is verification?

Verification is a process administered by Food and Nutrition Services District Office where a percentage of households that qualified for free or reduced-price meals are asked to provide proof of income to ensure the households are not receiving free or reduced-price meals in error. The verification process begins October 1. Households selected to participate will be notified and given instructions on how to comply in a letter mailed to the home from Food and Nutrition Services. Please refer all questions regarding this process to (813) 794-2438.

If a household or school site has more questions regarding the Free and Reduced-Price Meal Application process, who do they call?

For further questions, please call Food and Nutrition Services District Offices between the hours of 8:00 a.m. until 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday.

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Current meal prices

Reduced Price Breakfast: $0.30
Reduced Price Lunch: $0.40

Full Price Breakfast
Elementary: $1.35
Secondary: $1.50

Full Price Lunch
Elementary: $2.15
Secondary Classic: $2.60
Secondary Alternative: $3.00

Nondiscrimination Statement

“The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) prohibits discrimination against its customers, employees, and applicants for employment on the bases of race, color, national origin, age, disability, sex, gender identity, religion, reprisal, and where applicable, political beliefs, marital status, familial or parental status, sexual orientation, or if all or part of an individual's income is derived from any public assistance program, or protected genetic information in employment or in any program or activity conducted or funded by the Department. (Not all prohibited bases will apply to all programs and/or employment activities.)

If you wish to file a Civil Rights program complaint of discrimination, complete the USDA Program Discrimination Complaint Form, found online at the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights website, or at any USDA office, or call (866) 632-9992 to request the form. You may also write a letter containing all of the information requested in the form. Send your completed complaint form or letter to us by mail at U.S. Department of Agriculture, Director, Office of Adjudication, 1400 Independence Avenue, S.W., Washington, D.C. 20250-9410, by fax (202) 690-7442 or email at program.intake@usda.gov.

Individuals who are deaf, hard of hearing or have speech disabilities may contact USDA through the Federal Relay Service at (800) 877-8339; or (800) 845-6136 (in Spanish).

USDA is an equal opportunity provider and employer.”

 

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Kurt S. Browning, Superintendent of Schools
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