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
*Each additional household member add:
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 %
2.9199 TOTAL REIMBURSEMENT
2.8600 FEDERAL .0599 STATE
2.9399 TOTAL REIMBURSEMENT
2.8800 FEDERAL .0599 STATE
2.4600 FEDERAL .1981 STATE
2.6581 TOTAL REIMBURSEMENT
2.4800 FEDERAL .1981 STATE
2.6781 TOTAL REIMBURSEMENT
.3299 TOTAL REIMBURSEMENT
.3499 TOTAL REIMBURSEMENT
Special Milk (Paid Milk) .1925
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.