ACS Eligibility Option      In this report, the term used to refer to a new special provision that would provide free meals to all children. Schools, groups of schools, or school districts establish claiming percentages for federal reimbursement using American Community Survey (ACS) estimates for eligibility in conjunction with information collected during a base-year trial period. During the base year, applications are taken, and the district makes eligibility determinations, conducts verification, and counts meals by type (but does not charge for meals). After the base year, no new eligibility determinations or verification checks are required, and the district counts only the total number of reimbursable meals served each day.
Application      Local education agencies send students’ parents a letter just prior to or at the beginning of a school year describing the school meals programs, inviting them to apply, and providing an application form. The application requests information about program participation, family composition, and family income. School or district officials review the applications submitted and, within 10 working days of receiving an application, make a determination as to whether the child should be approved for free or reduced-price meals. If an application lists a legitimate case number for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly the Food Stamp Program) or other approved program, the student is certified as being categorically eligible for free meals.
Approved      Students who have been directly certified as eligible for free meals or who have applied for benefits and have been determined to be eligible for either free or reduced-price meals.


1 The panel determined which terms used in the school meals programs to include here based on its experience in preparing this report.

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