Editor: Shannon Cottongame
July 21, 2022
Free/reduced meal apps available…
During the pandemic, Congress authorized spending that allowed schools to serve free meals for all students. Those funds are not authorized to continue for the 2022-2023 school year. As a result, Whitney ISD will return to charging for school meals and offering free and reduced-price meals based on student eligibility.
Meal prices for the coming school year include: breakfast – $2.25 at all campuses; lunch – $2.75 for elementary and intermediate and $3 for middle and high school; reduced meal prices – $0.30 at all campuses for breakfast and $0.40 at all campuses for lunch.
Starting Thursday, July 21, the school will begin distributing letters and applications to the households of children in the district regarding eligibility for benefits. Families are encouraged to complete the Application for Free and Reduced-Price School Meals available at any campus office and also available at http://www.whitney.k12.tx.us and return the completed form online or to any school office or cafeteria.
The application will determine a child’s eligibility for free and reduced-price meals and may assist in the determination of eligibility for other state or federal benefits. Only one application needs to be completed per household. Schools will notify the household of the child’s eligibility.
The Texas Department of Agriculture (TDA) administers school nutrition programs in Texas and offers an eligibility calculator at http://www.Square Meals.org/ProgramEligibility.
Decisions regarding payment for school meals are made at the national-government level, not by the school nutrition team or TDA.
The following criteria will be used to determine a child’s eligibility for free or reduced-price meal benefits:
• Household income that is at or below the income eligibility levels
For those households that qualify for free or reduced-price meals based on income, an adult in the household must fill out free and reduced-price meal application and return it to Judy Bailey FSD, P.O. Box 518, Whitney, TX 76692 or any campus cafeteria or office.
Applications may be submitted any time during the school year. The information households provide on the application will be used for the purpose of determining eligibility. Applications may also be verified by the school officials at any time during the school year.
Categorical or Automatic Eligibility
• Household receiving Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF); or Food Distribution Program on Indian Reservations (FDPIR)
Program Participant Eligibility
• Child’s status as a foster child, homeless, runaway, migrant, or displaced by a declared disaster
• Child’s enrollment in Head Start or Even Start
Whitney ISD is working with local agencies to identify all children who are categorically and program eligible. Whitney ISD will notify the households of these children that they do not need to complete an application. Any household that does not receive a letter and feels it should, can contact Judy Bailey at 254-694-4661.
Any household that wishes to decline benefits should also contact Bailey.
Under the provisions of the free and reduced-price meal policy, Food Service Director Judy Bailey will review applications and determine eligibility. Households or guardians dissatisfied with the eligibility determination may wish to discuss the decision on an informal basis. Households wishing to make a formal appeal for a hearing on the decision may make a request either orally or in writing to Superintendent John McCullough, P.O. Box 518, Whitney, TX 76692.
If a household member becomes unemployed or if the household size increases, the household should contact the school. Such changes may make the children of the household eligible for benefits if the household’s income falls at or below the current income eligibility guidelines.
“It is very important for people to fill out their lunch forms before school starts to avoid meal charges and uninterrupted meal benefits,” Bailey said. “Households will be responsible for all meal charges that are incurred before a meal application is received and approved. If they get one in early that is one less thing to worry about on the first day of school. Applications are available in any school office and cafeteria. They are also in the enrollment packets.”