Washington public schools play a vital role in children’s health by providing free and reduced-price meals to students in need. Application packets are being sent to all households with school age kids at the beginning of the academic year. Households with income levels below certain thresholds will qualify for the program.
Applications can be submitted any time during the school year. Once the application has been received, parents or guardians can expect a determination within 10 working days. Households denied eligibility can appeal the decision by contacting their school.
Students receiving help through Temporary Assistance for Needy Families or the Basic Food Program – as well as all other students in the same household – automatically qualify for free meals. The Department of Social and Health Services provides OSPI with a list of children who receive these services to facilitate automatic eligibility. Households notified of their children’s eligibility must contact the school if it chooses to decline the free meal benefits.
Foster kids are eligible for free meal benefits. Children placed in foster care by DSHS are also included in the list provided to OSPI. In households where foster children reside, all other students in the household may be eligible for free or reduced price meals based on household size and income. In these situations, households may submit an application.
Homeless and migrant students, households taking part in Food Distribution Program on Indian Reservations and students in Head Start and Early Childhood Education and Assistance Program are eligible for free meals.
Households needing assistance with application materials in languages other than English should contact their school. There will be no discrimination against limited English speaking households in the school meal programs.
Washington State legislation, pays the cost of lunch for public school students eligible for reduced-price meals in grades K‒3 and the cost of breakfast for public school students eligible for reduced-price meals in grades K-12.