The U.S. Department of Agriculture is offering free meals to all children in eligible schools running USDA meal programs for the 2021-22 school year. This “Seamless Summer Option” also was offered last year because of the pandemic.
However, each year the USDA sets new income guidelines for the free and reduced-price meals provided through the National School Lunch and School Breakfast Programs, and for free milk in schools operating the Special Milk Program, and parents can submit applications even if all meals are being provided for free, the Idaho State Department of Education Child Nutrition Programs announced.
During school year 2021-22, all Idaho schools running USDA school meal programs are eligible to operate the Seamless Summer Option (SSO) providing free meals to all children in eligible schools. If a school chooses to operate as a “closed enrolled site,” the meals are available only to enrolled children. If a school chooses to operate as an “open site” the meals are available to all area children. Families should check with their districts to see which option will be offered.
Families must have the option to complete an application for free or reduced-price meals even though their school is providing free meals to all children. Households will be notified by the district if their school chooses to operate the National School Breakfast and/or Lunch program and will be collecting applications and charging the children for meals based on their reduced-price or paid status.
Households will be notified of any child’s eligibility for free meals if the individual child is known to be receiving educational support through migrant, homeless or runaway education, Head Start or court-ordered foster care. Children in households receiving Food Stamps or Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), Temporary Assistance to Families in Idaho (TAFI) or Food Distribution Program on Indian Reservations (FDPIR) are eligible for free meals. No other application or verification of eligibility is required for students directly certified.