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The Franklin News-Post
P. O. Box 250
310 Main Street, SW
Rocky Mount, Virginia 24151
Fax: 540-483-8013

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Free lunch program available to students

Friday, August 14, 2009

By JOEL TURNER - Staff Writer

As the economy has worsened nationwide, nearly half of the students in Franklin County schools are now receiving free or reduced-priced lunches.

During the past six years, there has been a 26-percent increase in the number of Franklin County students receiving free or reduced-priced lunches.

The percentage has risen from 36.8 percent in the 2003-2004 school year to 46.4 percent in the 2008-2009 school year.

The percentage varies among the county's schools, but overall, it was 46.4 percent in 2008-2009, according to the most recent management report on the county school system.

Free or reduced-price meals will be available in the county's schools in the upcoming school year for children who live in households that meet size and income eligibility standards, said Chuck Hutto, director of food services for the school division.

Children in households whose income is at or below certain levels are eligible for free or reduced-priced meals, according to the United States Department of Agriculture, which administers the lunch program.

For instance, children in a three-member household are eligible for free meals if the household income is below $23,803.

The children in a three-member household are eligible for reduced-priced meals if the household income is between $23,803 and $33,874.

There is a graduated scale for eligibility, based on the size of the household.

The children in a five-member household are eligible for free meals if the household income is below $33,527. They are eligible for reduced-priced meals if the household income is between $33,527 and $47,712.

Children who are members of food stamp households or who receive Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) are automatically eligible for free meals.

Foster children, who are the legal responsibility of a welfare agency or court, may be eligible for free meals, regardless of the household income. Eligibility for the foster child is based on the child's income.

Children who are members of households participating in the WIC program may also be eligible, based on the household's income.

Children who are homeless, migrants or runaways may also be automatically eligible for free meals.

Application forms are being distributed to households with a letter informing households of the availability of free or reduced-priced meals for their children. Applications are also available at the principal's office in each school and at the central office. Applications cannot be approved unless it is complete.

Under the free and reduced-priced meal policy, Hutto will review applications and determine eligibility.

Households wishing to make a formal appeal for a hearing on a decision on am application may make a request, either verbally or in writing, to Sue Rogers,  assistant superintendent, Franklin County Public Schools, 25 Bernard Road, Rocky Mount, Va., 24151, or phone 540-483-5138.

Households may apply for free or reduced-priced meals at any time during the school year. If the household income falls during the school year, the children may become eligible.

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