Eligibility Determination and Verification
Provides a comprehensive review of the meal benefit eligibility determination and verification process.
There are several ways for students to qualify for free or reduced-price meals.
Children living in households that participate in the following programs:
SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program)
TANF/RI Works (Temporary Assistance for Needy Families)
FDPIR (Food Distribution Program on Indian Reservations) - N/A in Rhode Island
If you participate in any of these programs you automatically qualify and DO NOT NEED TO COMPLETE A MEAL BENEFIT APPLICATION.
Schools must identify these students and notify families of their eligibility for free mealsat least 3 times per year through a process called Electronic Direct Certification,
which ensures that students receive the benefits they deserve.
It's important that the information contained within your student information system andshared with RIDE via the eRIDE system is accurate because errors like
misspelled namesor incorrect birth dates mean that some eligible children may be missed during the electronic direct certification process. Improving direct certification numbers will lessen the paperwork families have to fill out and reduce administrative burden for the district.
Remember, all children living in a household receiving benefits from one of the programs listed above should be automatically qualified for free meals. Schools are encouraged to use address-matching to ensure that all other children that live in the same household as a child on the electronic direct certification list receive free meal benefits without additional applications.
Children who are migrant, in foster care, experiencing homelessness, or enrolled in Head Start, automatically qualify for free school meals, but DO REQUIRE A COMPLETED MEAL BENEFIT APPLICATION, which may be submitted by a social worker or homeless liaison.
Children living in households with incomes at or below 130 percent of the federal poverty level are eligible for free school meals with a COMPLETED MEAL BENEFIT APPLICATION. Children living in households with incomes between 130-185 percent of the federal poverty level are eligible for reduced-price school meals with a COMPLETED MEAL BENEFIT APPLICATION.