Harrisburg, PA - Pennsylvania K-12 schools will have the option to continue offering free nutritious school meals during the 2021-22 school year, the Pennsylvania Department of Education (PDE) announced today. The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), Food & Nutrition Services (FNS) released a group of waivers and eligibility guidelines allowing schools to offer the meals without determining eligibility based on the student’s household income.
“I’m grateful to the USDA for their commitment to combatting hunger throughout this pandemic,” said Secretary of Education Noe Ortega. “I encourage schools to take advantage of these waivers, which help ensure learners across Pennsylvania continue to have access to free, nutritious meals.”
Participating schools will operate under the Seamless Summer Option (SSO) and will receive a higher federal reimbursement rate per meal.
Schools that elect not to serve free meals through the SSO will determine eligibility for free and reduced-price meals through the National School Lunch Program (NSLP) using federal income guidelines. The annually updated income eligibility guidelines for the 2021-22 school year have been released by the USDA.
The new eligibility guidelines went into effect July 1, 2021 and allows schools and other institutions and facilities to determine eligibility for the NSLP, the School Breakfast Program, the Special Milk Program for Children, the Child and Adult Care Food Program, the Summer Food Service Program, and the Pandemic Electronic Benefit Transfer.
To apply, households already receiving benefits from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) or Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) need only include the SNAP or TANF case number on their application if not notified of their automatic eligibility by the school. Households enrolled in the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) may qualify for free or reduced-price school meals and should complete a Household Meal Benefit Application. Other households can find more information on Pennsylvania’s COMPASS website.
In accordance with Federal civil rights law and U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) civil rights regulations and policies, the USDA, its Agencies, offices, and employees, and institutions participating in or administering USDA programs are prohibited from discriminating based on race, color, national origin, sex, disability, age, or reprisal or retaliation for prior civil rights activity in any program or activity conducted or funded by USDA.
Persons with disabilities who require alternative means of communication for program information (e.g., Braille, large print, audiotape, American Sign Language, etc.), should contact the Agency (State or local) where they applied for benefits. Individuals who are deaf, hard of hearing or have speech disabilities may contact USDA through the Federal Relay Service at (800) 877-8339. Additionally, program information may be made available in languages other than English.
To file a program complaint of discrimination, complete the USDA Program Discrimination Complaint Form, (AD-3027) found online at: http://www.ascr.usda.gov/complaint_filing_cust.html, and at any USDA office, or write a letter addressed to USDA and provide in the letter all of the information requested in the form. To request a copy of the complaint form, call (866) 632-9992. Submit your completed form or letter to USDA by:
(1) Mail: U.S. Department of Agriculture
Office of the Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights
1400 Independence Avenue, SW
Washington, D.C. 20250-9410;
(2) Fax: (202) 690-7442; or
(3) E-mail: email@example.com.
This institution is an equal opportunity provider.
For more information on other public assistance programs, visit the Pennsylvania Department of Human Services website.
For more information about Pennsylvania’s education policies and programs please visit the Department of Education’s website or follow PDE on Facebook, Twitter, or Pinterest.
MEDIA CONTACT: Kendall Alexander, firstname.lastname@example.org -
# # #