2022-23 Free & Reduced Instructions
Dear Parents and Guardians,
The school meals program is funded by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, school corporations across the country have been operating with the use of a federal waiver that allowed them to feed every child for free through the end of this school year. The use of this waiver will not be available after this school year and corporations will return to the traditional eligibility requirements for free, reduced and paid meals. This means that for School Year 2022-2023, our school corporation will process free and reduced-price meal benefit applications.
The Food Services Department does have the ability to Directly Certify students who receive SNAP, TANF, some Medicaid, are certified as homeless, migrant, or are wards of the state (foster children). Households who are found to be directly certified will be notified in writing of the free or reduced-price meal status prior to the start of school and will not need to complete an application.
Meal benefit applications will not be available until July 1*. Households are encouraged to apply before the start of the school year to avoid unpaid meal charges. Students who are not approved for free or reduced-price meal benefits before the start of the school year will be classified as paid status and meal charges may begin to accumulate starting the first day of school. Meal charges accrued before the approval of a meal benefit application will be the responsibility of the household.
You do NOT need to complete an application if:
- You receive notification that your child(ren) are directly certified.
- You know your household does not qualify for meal benefits. (Please have money in your child’s account on the first day of school.)
*Applications received prior to July 1 will not be effective for the 2022-2023 school year.
Director of Food Services
East Porter County School Corporation
All enrolled students at East Porter County School Corporation are eligible to receive a healthy breakfast and lunch at no charge to your household. No further action is required of you. Your child(ren) will be able to participate in the meal programs without having to pay a fee or complete an application. Households should still fill out an application if they would like to be eligible for other educational benefits. Some examples of other educational benefits may include curricular (textbook) assistance, test/exam fee reduction or waiver, and eligibility for other discounts or program opportunities.
- WHO CAN GET FREE OR REDUCED PRICE BENEFITS?
- All children in households receiving benefits from SNAP (Food Stamps) or TANF, are eligible for free benefits.
- Foster children that are under the legal responsibility of a foster care agency or court are eligible for free benefits.
- Children participating in their school’s Head Start program are eligible for free benefits.
- Children who meet the definition of homeless, runaway, or migrant are eligible for free benefits.
- Children may receive free or reduced benefits if your household’s income is within the limits on the Federal Income Eligibility Guidelines. Your children may qualify for free or reduced benefits if your household income falls at or below the limits on this chart.
- 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 benefits, please call or e-mail Dr. Aaron Case, 219-766-2214, [email protected]
- 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: Lori Sikora, 502 E. College Ave, Kouts, IN 46347. 219-766-2231 EXT 2020.
- SHOULD I FILL OUT AN APPLICATION IF I RECEIVED A LETTER THIS SCHOOL YEAR SAYING MY CHILDREN ARE ALREADY APPROVED FOR FREE BENEFITS? 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 Lori Sikora, 502 E. College Ave., PO Box 370, Kouts, IN 46347, 219-766-2231 EXT 2020, [email protected] immediately.
- 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 eastporter.k12.in.us to begin or to learn more about the online application process. Contact Lori Sikora, 502 E. College Ave.,PO Box 370, Kouts, IN 46347, 219-766-2231 EXT 2020, [email protected] if you have any questions about the online application.
- 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 through September 22, 2021. You must send in a new application unless the school told you that your child is eligible for the new school year. If you do not send in a new application that is approved by the school or you have not been notified that your child is eligible for free benefits, your child will be charged the full price of curricular fees.
- SHOULD I FILL OUT AN APPLICATION IF MY CHILDREN RECEIVED FREE OR REDUCED BENEFITS AT THEIR PREVIOUS SCHOOL? If it is the beginning of the school year and you have not been notified that your children will receive free or reduced benefits for the upcoming year, you will need to fill out an application. If your children transferred during the school year and they were receiving free or reduced benefits at the previous school, contact Lori Sikora, 502 E. College Ave., PO Box 370, Kouts, IN 46347, 219-766-2231 EXT 2020, [email protected] immediately.
- I GET WIC. CAN MY CHILDREN GET FREE BENEFITS? Children in households participating in WIC may be eligible for free or reduced benefits. Please send in an application.
- 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 benefits 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: Dr. Aaron Case, 219-766-2214, [email protected]
- 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 benefits.
- 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, 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 Lori Sikora, 502 E. College Ave., PO Box 370, Kouts, IN 46347, 219-766-2231 EXT 2020, [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 SNAP (Food Stamp) or other assistance benefits, contact your local assistance office or call 1-800-403-0864.
If you have other questions or need help, call Lori Sikora, 219-766-2231 EXT 2020..
Director of Food Services
HOW TO APPLY FOR FREE AND REDUCED BENEFITS
Please use these instructions to help you fill out the application for free or reduced benefits. You only need to submit one application per household, even if your children attend more than one school in the East Porter County School Corporation. The application must be filled out completely to certify your children for free or reduced benefits. Please follow these instructions in order! Each step of the instructions is the same as the steps on your application. If at any time you are not sure what to do next, please contact Lori Sikora, 502 E. College Ave.,PO Box 370, Kouts, IN 46347, 219-766-2231 EXT 2020.
PLEASE USE A PEN (NOT A PENCIL) WHEN FILLING OUT THE APPLICATION AND DO YOUR BEST TO PRINT CLEARLY.