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OSSE Announces Criteria and Participants for School Year 2023-24 Free and Reduced-Priced Meals

Monday, October 16, 2023

The District of Columbia Office of the State Superintendent of Education (OSSE) announces the criteria for determining the eligibility of children to receive free and reduced-price meals for schools participating in the National School Lunch Program (NSLP) and the Special Milk Program (SMP) for free milk in schools.

For schools participating in the NSLP and SMP, a letter or notice and family application forms are distributed to parents of all children in attendance at school at the beginning of each school year. The letter or notice shall contain the following information:

  • In schools participating in a meal service program, the eligibility criteria for reduced-price benefits with an explanation that households with incomes less than or equal to the reduced-price criteria would be eligible for either free or reduced-price meals, or in schools participating in the free milk option, the eligibility criteria for free milk benefits;
  • How a household may make an application for free or reduced-price meals or for free milk for its children;
  • An explanation that an application for free or reduced-price benefits cannot be approved unless it contains complete information as described in paragraph (1)(i) of the definition of Documentation in §245.2;
  • An explanation that households with children who are members of currently certified Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), Food Distribution Program on Indian Reservations (FDPIR) or Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) households may submit applications for these children with the abbreviated information described in paragraph (2)(ii) of the definition of Documentation in §245.2;
  • An explanation that the information on the application may be verified at any time during the school year;
  • How a household may apply for benefits at any time during the school year as circumstances change;
  • A statement to the effect that children having parents or guardians who become unemployed are eligible for free or reduced-price meals or for free milk during the period of unemployment, provided, that the loss of income causes the household income during the period of unemployment to be within the eligibility criteria;
  • The statement: “In the operation of child feeding programs, no child will be discriminated against because of race, sex, color, national origin, age or disability;”
  • An explanation that Head Start enrollees and foster, homeless, migrant, and runaway children, as defined in §245.2, are categorically eligible for free meals and free milk and their families should contact the school for more information;
  • How a household may appeal the decision of the local educational agency with respect to the application under the hearing procedure set forth in §245.7. The letter or notice shall be accompanied by a copy of the application form required under §245.6.
  • A statement to the effect that the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC) participants may be eligible for free or reduced-price meals.

The schools will receive free or reduced-price meal reimbursement based on the following income scales from July 1, 2023 to June 30, 2024, calculated on annual income.

If you have questions about applying for meals, please contact your Local Education Agency (LEA). A listing of LEAs eligible to participate in the 2023-24 NSLP and SMP with contact information is linked here.

In accordance with federal civil rights law and U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) civil rights regulations and policies, this institution is prohibited from discriminating on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex (including gender identity and sexual orientation), disability, age, or reprisal or retaliation for prior civil rights activity.

Program information may be made available in languages other than English. Persons with disabilities who require alternative means of communication to obtain program information (e.g., Braille, large print, audiotape, American Sign Language), should contact the responsible State or local Agency that administers the program or USDA’s TARGET Center at (202) 720-2600 (voice and TTY) or contact USDA through the Federal Relay Service at (800) 877-8339.

To file a program discrimination complaint, a Complainant should complete a Form AD-3027, USDA Program Discrimination Complaint Form which can be obtained online here, from any USDA office, by calling (866) 632-9992, or by writing a letter addressed to USDA. The letter must contain the complainant’s name, address, telephone number, and a written description of the alleged discriminatory action in sufficient detail to inform the Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights (ASCR) about the nature and date of an alleged civil rights violation. The completed AD-3027 form or letter must be submitted to USDA by:

(1) mail:

U.S. Department of Agriculture
Office of the Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights
1400 Independence Avenue, SW
Washington, D.C. 20250-9410; or

(2) fax:
(833) 256-1665 or (202) 690-7442; or

(3) email:
[email protected]

This institution is an equal opportunity provider.

Also, the District of Columbia Human Rights Act, approved December 13, 1977 (DC law 2-38; DC official code §2-1402.11(2006), as amended) states the following:

It shall be an unlawful discriminatory practice to do any of the following acts, wholly or partially for a discriminatory reason based upon the actual or perceived: race, color, religion, national origin, sex, age, marital status, personal appearance, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, family responsibilities, genetic information, disability, matriculation, or political affiliation of any individual. To file a complaint alleging discrimination on one of these bases, please contact the District of Columbia’s Office of Human Rights at (202) 727-4559 or [email protected].