Effective Date of Free or Reduced Price Meal Eligibility Determinations
The Food and Nutrition Service issued this memo (USDA Memo SP 11-2014) on December 3, 2013, to explain how school districts can pinpoint the date on which a student is eligible for free school meals. Local Educational Agencies (including school districts, BOCES, and charter schools) are allowed to use the date when a family turns in their school meal application as the effective date of eligibility, rather than the date a school official approves the application. This also gives school districts flexibility when schools are waiting for documentation of categorical eligibility (e.g., for homeless or migrant children) indicated on household applications. This policy makes it easier for low-income children to get free meals by allowing access to free or reduced-price meals during the eligibility determination period. It also could assist Local Educational Agencies that are experiencing challenges with unpaid debt.