Don't Go to School Hungry: Mamaroneck Students Partake in National School Lunch Program

A federally funded program helps children from low income families obtain free or reduced price meals at Mamaroneck schools.


Although many kids in the Mamaroneck School District are able to satisfy their breakfast or lunchtime cravings with a home packed lunch or a pocketful of cash, for some who lack the resources, a growling stomach may not be so easily satiated.

Luckily, the district participates in the National School Lunch Program, a federally funded meal program that provides low-cost or free meals to over 31 million qualifying kids.  Approximately 18 percent of Mamaroneck District students are enrolled in the program, said Spokesperson Debbie Manetta.

Free or reduced lunch is available at all six schools in the district including , , (MAS), , and (MHS).  Breakfast is only available at MAS, Hommocks and MHS, said Meryl Rubinstein, the assistant superintendent for business operations, presumably only where the greatest need exists.

In order to qualify for reduced meals—$.25 for breakfast and $.25 for lunch that typically costs between $1.00-$2.75, depending on the school—the child must come from a family whose income is between 130 and 185 percent of the poverty level ($29,965-$42,643 for a family of four), according to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Food and Nutrition Service.   Those with incomes at or below 130 percent of the poverty level are eligible for free meals; U.S. citizenship is not a requirement.

Below is an example of the income guidelines, excerpted from a letter to parents on the school’s website:

2012-2013 Income Eligibility Guideline For Free and Reduced Price Meals or Free Milk

Reduced Price Eligibility Income Chart

Total Family Size



Twice per Month

Every Two Weeks




$ 1,723

$ 862

$ 795

$ 398



$ 2,333

$ 1,167

$ 1,077

$ 539



$ 2,944

$ 1,472

$ 1,359

$ 680



$ 3,554

$ 1,777

$ 1,641

$ 821



$ 4,165

$ 2,083

$ 1,922

$ 961



$ 4,775

$ 2,388

$ 2,204




$ 5,386

$ 2,693

$ 2,486




$ 5,996

$ 2,998

$ 2,768


*Each additional household member add:

$ 7,326

$ 611

$ 306

$ 282



Children in households where members are receiving government benefits such as food stamps or Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF)—a cash assistance program—automatically qualify for free meals, as do homeless, migrant and runaway children.  Those who receive the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program, Woman, Infants and Children (WIC), however, will not automatically be granted free meals, and will need to apply to the program. 

Although the school must initially front the money to pay for the program, they are eligible for cash reimbursements from the USDA and state.

“The school lunch fund (separate from the General Fund, which the voters vote on) gets reimbursed for the meals.  We pay the vendor their fee and submit claims and get whatever the correct reimbursement is depending on the category from the state,” said Manetta.

Reimbursement rates vary, but the standard rate for schools serving less than 60 percent free and reduced price lunches during the preceding school year are as follows:


UNDER 60 %

OVER 60%



2.8600 FEDERAL .0599 STATE



2.8800 FEDERAL .0599 STATE


2.4600 FEDERAL .1981 STATE



2.4800 FEDERAL .1981 STATE



.0599 STATE


.0599 STATE


Special Milk (Paid Milk) .1925

Afterschool Snacks:

Free .7800; Reduced .3900; Paid .0700; Commodity Rate: .2275

A full list of reimbursement rates, including breakfast, is available here.

In addition to cash reimbursement, schools are also able to receive USDA “entitlement foods” at a value of 22.75 cents for every meal served, plus bonus foods from surplus agricultural stock.

For those interested in the program, a letter explaining the program and an application—in both English and Spanish—are available on the school’s website here.  

SRC August 14, 2012 at 04:23 PM
I am all for helping those in need but once this our government is helping those that dont even pay into the system. I quote "U.S. citizenship is not a requirement." So my middle class family whose Mortgage makes up a good portion of my monthly income doesnt qualify cause im making too much money...truly ridiculous. When does the middle class family get help? Instead, lets help those that arent citizens who dont pay taxes..Makes absolute ZERO sense to me
Luis Quiros August 15, 2012 at 01:35 PM
SRC: Citizenship dialogue connected to services one deserves is an excuse for you to express hate and bigotry. This very much needed and successful food program began with the Black Panther Party. J. Edgar Hoover and others of his mindset created the myth that the group was a street gang to discredit the organization and its leaders, Bobby Seale and Huey Newton. They went further and stated that the program was a strategy to recruit more Black members. The program as it exists today is a product of envy and politics that reinvented the program and ran it with government funds, dismantling the initial program. This nation owes a lot to the Black and Latino communities who are also made up of citizens. Taxes have been paid by these communities without benefits or justice. For the Black community, it took over a century before their contributions were noted. Yet, we have received nothing but injustices that go into the present; your words and mentality being a prime example.
BG7 August 15, 2012 at 01:45 PM
SRC, Quiros's predictable sanctimony and specious reasoning aside, there are many who pay taxes who aren't citizens. All legal permanent residents for a start (greencard holders). They pay taxes, and you as a citizen get to vote on the people who spend those taxes - they don't. Secondly, this is about getting food to people. You have to be pretty mean and wrapped up in your own world to begrudge that.
Cadeyrn September 17, 2012 at 10:58 AM
Who can take Quiros seriously?


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