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For Immediate Release: Sept. 16, 2005
Contact: Sandra Kangas - (605) 773-4746

Free or reduced-price meal guidelines for child care centers available

The Department of Education’s Child and Adult Nutrition Services announces the federal policy for free and reduced-price meals in child care agencies participating in the Child and Adult Care Food Program for 2005-06.

The program allows children whose families are unable to pay the price of meals served at a child care agency to receive those meals free. A list of participating agencies can be found at This list also includes participating schools.

Each child care agency that participates in the program has a copy of its meal policy available for review. Each agency also has applications available. Information provided on the application is confidential and used only for the purpose of determining eligibility.

Many child care centers do not charge for meals; however, they will ask parents to complete the applications for free and reduced-price meals. This practice helps to ensure that centers continue to receive full federal reimbursement and are able to provide the service to those who need it.

For those centers that do charge for meals, the policy applies to children whose families are unable to pay the full price of meals. These families may apply for free or reduced-price meals for 2005-06, according to guidelines effective July 1, 2005.

Children from households that are currently on Food Stamps, Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), or Food Distribution Program on Indian Reservations (FDPIR) are automatically eligible to receive free meals at a child care center. In order to receive the free meals, they must provide their case number on the application or present a letter stating that they are eligible for one of these programs. Children who are Head Start participants based on income automatically are eligible for free meals. Families should contact their local child care center for detailed information.

Children who receive free or reduced-price meals are treated the same as children who pay for meals. No child will be discriminated against in accordance with federal law and U.S. Department of Agriculture policy. This institution is prohibited from discriminating on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex, age, or disability.

To file a complaint of discrimination, write USDA, Director, Office of Civil Rights, Room 326-W, Whitten Building, 1400 Independence Avenue, SW, Washington, D.C. 20250-9410 or call (202) 720-5964 (voice and TDD). USDA is an equal opportunity provider and employer. If a child needs a special diet as prescribed by a doctor, the family should contact the local center’s food service manager.

Click on the link below to view the income scales used to determine an applicant’s eligibility for free or reduced-price meals. The same income guidelines apply to the National School Lunch and School Breakfast Programs.


Income Scales Used to Determine Eligibility