Posted on Tuesday, August 4th, 2015 at 7:00 am
The start of a brand new school year comes with a lot of expensive purchases. Families who are low-income might struggle to provide their child with a sack lunch five days a week. The National School Lunch Program might be able to help your kids by providing them with a healthy lunch at school.
The United States Department of Agriculture found that both children and adults were food insecure in 9.9% of households with children (in 2013). That comes to 3.8 million households.
The World Health Organization states that food security is built on three pillars. One is food availability, which means a person is getting a sufficient quantity of food on a consistent basis. Another is food access, which means a person has sufficient resources to obtain appropriate foods for a nutritious diet. The third pillar is food use, which has to do using food based on a basic knowledge of nutrition and care as well as adequate access to water and sanitation.
Those who lack even one of those three pillars are food insecure. They are not able to consistently obtain the nutritious food that their body needs. The National School Lunch Program can help prevent food insecurity by providing a nutritious lunch to children who come from low-income families.
Any child can purchase a meal through the National School Lunch Program. Children who come from families who have an income of at or below 130% of the national poverty level are eligible for free meals. Children who come from families with incomes between 130% and 185% of the poverty level are eligible for reduced-price meals. Students in that group can be charged no more than 40 cents for their meal.
Do you think your family fits into those eligibility requirements? If so, you can apply to have your child be part of the National School Lunch Program. Schools send school meal applications home with students at the beginning of each school year. It is also possible to apply later in the school year.
Parents can ask someone at their child’s school for an application for the National School Lunch Program. Sometimes, schools will offer parents information about the free and reduced lunch program at the time that they sign their child up for school.
If your family is already qualified for other types of public assistance, it is possible that your children may already qualify for the National School Lunch Program. Families that are receiving Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits need to be aware that their children already qualify of the National School Lunch Program. Parents who are eligible for unemployment compensation may also find that their children qualify for free or reduced lunches.