As explained in this CPR story by Jenny Brundin…
School Meals Are Free For Everyone This Year. But If You Don’t Fill Out The Forms, It Could Cost Your District
Parents filling out a simple form could not just save the school district money, it could make sure the district gets the dollars it will need to provide things like extra tutoring and classroom aides in schools.
We are talking about the Application for Free and Reduced Lunch for your child.
We understand, it may be confusing for parents –
Especially, since the federal government is committed to providing Free meals for everyone this year – which may lead folks to assume there’s no need to fill out a form – but, as Brundin explains in her article:
“schools rely on the count of the number of eligible students from those applications (submitted by Oct. 1, the state’s official count day) in order to get extra state and federal money for “at-risk children”.
In the Dec. 3, 2020 Jeffco budget presentation, for the district’s 2020/2021 Enrollment, Free and Reduced Lunch Count dropped from 25,326 (2019/2020 school year) to 23,882 (2020/2021), a decrease of 1,444. It wasn’t because Jeffco just magically had that many fewer students who were eligible for Free and Reduced Lunch, but because meals were being automatically distributed by school districts (due to the pandemic), folks just didn’t see the need to fill out the paperwork. Jeffco was not the only district with this issue.
- Jeffco Schools Free & Reduced Meal Application: https://d3ciwvs59ifrt8.cloudfront.net/10d520ed-39c4-44c3-85e5-de56324afab0/0370c0b1-2238-4fc7-910d-ed22788bd495.pdf
- Jeffco parents can apply online at: www.schoolcafe.com
The district still needs you to fill out the application – opting out of completing the application only makes it difficult for the district to determine whether the family knows they won’t qualify or if they simply don’t know about the eligibility tool.
The district sends a letter to ALL parents https://d3ciwvs59ifrt8.cloudfront.net/10d520ed-39c4-44c3-85e5-de56324afab0/fb6e976c-410f-4605-a897-d22f698acfa9.pdf
- Because the district has no way of determining what any one family’s financial status is – especially after the pandemic’s economic impact- some families may actually be eligible and not realize it, and
- districts are working hard to remove the stigma attached to children who are unable to pay for lunch.
It’s important to note, school districts (by law) are only allowed to encourage parents/families to apply for this school lunch program.