Free and Reduced Application Questions and Answers

Children need healthy meals to learn. Needham Public Schools is providing free meals to all students with funding provided by the State of Massachusetts. Children enrolled in the district are eligible for these free meals regardless of eligibility through June 30, 2023. Even though meals are free, it is recommended that school districts still collect applications and notify households of the results. Qualifying for free or reduced meals may qualify you for other benefits in the Needham Public Schools, such as scholarships to NPS programs and activities, as well as free transportation to and from school.  Additionally, qualifying for free or reduced meals may qualify you for benefits provided by the state.

If you are not receiving Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits and have been approved for free or reduced-price school meals, you may be eligible for SNAP which provides monthly financial assistance to purchase groceries to Massachusetts residents who qualify. Find out if you are eligible for SNAP today by calling Project Bread's FoodSource Hotline at 1-800-645-8333 and a counselor can help you apply over the phone. You can also apply on your own online at DTA Connect: https://dtaconnect.eohhs.mass.gov/apply

Frequently Asked Questions

DO I NEED TO FILL OUT AN APPLICATION FOR EACH CHILD?
No. Use one Free and Reduced-Price School Meals Application for all students in your household. We cannot approve an application that is not complete, so be sure to fill out all required information. Return the completed application to: Danielle Collins, Nutrition Services Director, 1330 Highland Avenue, Needham, MA 02492; 781-455-0400 x11219.

SHOULD I FILL OUT AN APPLICATION IF I RECEIVED A LETTER THIS SCHOOL YEAR SAYING MY CHILDREN ARE ALREADY APPROVED FOR FREE MEALS? 
No, but please read the letter you got carefully and follow the instructions. If any children in your household were missing from your eligibility notification, contact Danielle Collins, Nutrition Services Director, at 781-455-0400 x11219 or [email protected] immediately.

MY CHILD’S APPLICATION WAS APPROVED LAST YEAR.  DO I NEED TO FILL OUT A NEW ONE?  
Yes.  Your child’s application is only good for that school year and for the first few days of this school year.  You must send in a new application unless the school told you that your child is eligible for the new school year. 

MAY I APPLY IF SOMEONE IN MY HOUSEHOLD IS NOT A U.S. CITIZEN?
Yes. You, your children or other household members do not have to be U.S. citizens to apply for free or reduced-price meals.

WHO QUALIFIES FOR FREE OR REDUCED PRICE MEALS?
This year, all students in our schools will get free breakfast and lunch at school.  But only some students qualify as “eligible” for free meals.  These are:

      All children in households receiving benefits from MA SNAP, MA TAFDC, FDPIR, or specific categories of Medicaid are eligible for free meals.

      Foster children that are under the legal responsibility of a foster care agency or court are eligible for free meals.

      Children participating in their school’s Head Start program are eligible for free meals.

      Children who meet the definition of homeless, runaway, or migrant are eligible for free meals.

     Children may receive free or reduced-price meals if your household’s income is within the limits on the Federal Income Eligibility Guidelines. Your children may qualify for free or reduced-price meals if your household income falls at or below the limits on this chart.

FEDERAL ELIGIBILITY INCOME CHART for theSchool Year 2022 - 2023

 

Household size

Yearly

Monthly

Weekly

1

$25,142

$2,096

$484

2

33,874

2,823

652

3

42,606

3,551

820

4

51,338

4,279

988

5

60,070

5,006

1,156

6

68,802

5,734

1,324

7

77,534

6,462

1,492

8

86,266

7,189

1,659

Each additional person:

+8,732

+728

+168

HOW DO I KNOW IF MY CHILDREN QUALIFY AS HOMELESS, MIGRANT, OR RUNAWAY?
Do the members of your household lack a permanent address? Are you staying together in a shelter, hotel, or other temporary housing arrangement? Does your family relocate on a seasonal basis? Are any children living with you who have chosen to leave their prior family or household? If you believe children in your household meet these descriptions and haven’t been told your children will get free meals, please call or email Mary Lammi, Assistant Superintendent for Student Support Services, at 781-455-0400 x11213 or email: [email protected] to see if you qualify. 

I GET WIC. CAN MY CHILDREN GET FREE MEALS? 
Children in households participating in WIC may be eligible for free or reduced-price meals.  Please send in a completed application.

CAN I APPLY ONLINE?
Yes! You are encouraged to complete an online application instead of a paper application if you are able. The online application has the same requirements and will ask you for the same information as the paper application. Visit the Meal Magic Family Portal at https://needham.familyportal.cloud/. Click on “Guest” then scroll to the bottom to “Accept” both the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy to begin or to learn more about the online application process. Contact Danielle Collins, Nutrition Services Director, at 781-455-0400 x11219 or [email protected].

WILL THE INFORMATION I GIVE BE CHECKED?
Yes. We may also ask you to send written proof of the household income you report.

IF I DON’T QUALIFY NOW, MAY I APPLY LATER?
Yes, you may apply at any time during the school year.  For example, children with a parent or guardian who becomes unemployed may become eligible for free and reduced-price meals if the household income drops below the income limit.

WHAT IF I DISAGREE WITH THE SCHOOL’S DECISION ABOUT MY APPLICATION?You should talk to school officials. You also may ask for a hearing by calling or writing to Anne Gulati, Assistant Superintendent for Finance and Operations, 1330 Highland Avenue, Needham, MA 02492, phone: 781-455-0400 x11206 or email: [email protected].

WHAT IF MY INCOME IS NOT ALWAYS THE SAME?
List the amount that you normally receive. For example, if you normally make $1000 each month, but you missed some work last month and only made $900, put down that you made $1000 per month.  If you normally get overtime, include it, but do not include it if you only work overtime sometimes.  If you have lost a job or had your hours or wages reduced, use your current income.

WHAT IF SOME HOUSEHOLD MEMBERS HAVE NO INCOME TO REPORT?
Household members may not receive some types of income we ask you to report on the application or may not receive income at all. Whenever this happens, please write a 0 in the field. However, if any income fields are left empty or blank, those will also be counted as zeroes. Please be careful when leaving income fields blank, as we will assume you meant to do so.

WE ARE IN THE MILITARY. DO WE REPORT OUR INCOME DIFFERENTLY?
Your basic pay and cash bonuses must be reported as income. If you get any cash value allowances for off-base housing, food, or clothing, or receive Family Subsistence Supplemental Allowance payments, it must also be included as income. However, if your housing is part of the Military Housing Privatization Initiative, do not include your housing allowance as income. Any additional combat pay resulting from deployment is also excluded from income.

WHAT IF THERE ISN’T ENOUGH SPACE ON THE APPLICATION FOR MY FAMILY? 
List any additional household members on a separate piece of paper and attach it to your application. Contact Danielle Collins, Nutrition Services Director, at 781-455-0400 x11219 or [email protected] to receive a second application.

MY FAMILY NEEDS MORE HELP. ARE THERE OTHER PROGRAMS WE MIGHT APPLY FOR?
To find out how to apply for MA SNAP or other assistance benefits, contact your local assistance office or call the MA SNAP Hotline at 1-866-950-3663.

If you have other questions or need help, call the Nutrition Services Department at 781-

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