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Free & Reduced Lunch Program

2023-24 school year applications will be available on August 7.  Don't forget... families must re-apply every year.

The District encourages all families to review Free and Reduced Lunch income eligibility information. Then, if you feel that you may qualify, the District encourages you to fill out an application. The online application only takes a few minutes and is the fastest, easiest way to get approved. Families must apply for free and reduced meal benefits each year regardless of whether or not they received benefits in the past. The online application opens on August 7, 2023.

The online application only takes a few minutes and is the fastest, easiest way to get approved.

To apply for free or reduced meal benefits, click APPLY ONLINE NOW tab below and register for a School Cafe account. Once registered, click Apply for Free or Reduced Benefits. You may also complete a paper application and return it to your school office. If you need help filing your application, please contact Alison Kreider at 717-367-1521, ext 21060 or email alison_kreider@etownschools.org.

Households that qualify for free or reduced lunch may also be eligible for additional programs/services offered by the District and will have school district participation fees waived. Please note that your participation in the Free and Reduced Lunch Program is highly confidential, with only a limited number of school district representatives aware of eligibility.

Apply Online Now

Frequently Asked Questions

Who can get free or reduced price meals or special milk?

  • All children in households receiving Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) (formerly the Food Stamp Program) or Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) benefits are eligible for free meals.
  • Foster children who are under the legal responsibility of a foster care agency or court are eligible for free meals.
  • Children participating in their school’s Head Start program are eligible for free meals.
  • Children who meet the definition of homeless, runaway, or migrant are eligible for free meals.
  • Children may receive free or reduced price meals if your household’s income is within the limits on the Federal Income Eligibility Guidelines. Your children may qualify for free or reduced price meals if your household income falls at or below the limits on this chart.

Do I need to fill out an application for each child?
No. Use one Free and Reduced Price School Meals Application for all students in your household. We cannot approve an application that is not complete, so be sure to fill out all required information. Return the completed application to: Alison Kreider, Admin Assistant to Food Service, alison_kreider@etownschools.org, 717-367-1521, ext. 21060.

Should I fill out an application if I received a letter this school year saying my children are already approved for free meals?
No, but read the letter you received carefully and follow the instructions. If any children in your household were missing from your eligibility notification letter, contact Alison Kreider, Admin Assistant to Food Service, alison_kreider@etownschools.org, 717-367-1521, ext. 21060 immediately.

Can I apply online?
Yes! You are encouraged to complete an online application instead of a paper application if you are able. The online application has the same requirements and will ask you for the same information as the paper application. Visit www.etownschools.org or visit the PA Department of Human Services website at www.compass.state.pa.us.

My child’s application was approved last year. Do I need to fill out a new one?
Yes. Your child’s application is only good for that school year and for the first 30 operating school days of this school year. You must send in a new application unless the school told you that your child is eligible for the new school year. 

I get WIC. Can my children get free meals?
Children in households participating in WIC may be eligible for free or reduced price meals. Send in an application.

Will the information i give be checked?
Yes. We may also ask you to send written proof of the household income you report.

If I don’t qualify now, may I apply later?
Yes, you may apply at any time during the school year.  For example, children with a parent or guardian who becomes unemployed may become eligible for free and/or reduced price meals if the household income drops below the income limit.

What if I disagree with the school’s decision about my application?
You should talk to school officials. You also may ask for a hearing by calling or writing to: Dr. Karen Nell, Superintendent, karen_nell@etownschools.org, 717-367-1521, ext. 10002.

May I apply if someone in my household is not a u.s. citizen?
Yes. You, your children, or other household members do not have to be U.S. citizens to apply for free or reduced price meals.  

How do I know if my children qualify as homeless, migrant, or runaway?
Do the members of your household lack a permanent address? Are you staying together in a shelter, hotel, or other temporary housing arrangement? Does your family relocate on a seasonal basis? Are any children living with you who have chosen to leave their prior family or household? If you believe children in your household meet these descriptions and haven’t been told your children will get free meals, call or email Richard Schwarzman, Assistant to Superintendent for Student & Compliance, richard_schwarzman@etownschools.org, 717-367-1521, ext. 10003.

What if my income is not always the same?
List the amount that you normally receive. For example, if you normally make $1000 each month, but you missed some work last month and only made $900, put down that you made $1000 per month.  If you normally get overtime, include it, but do not include it if you only work overtime sometimes.  If you have lost a job or had your hours or wages reduced, use your current income.

What if some household members have no income to report?
Household members may not receive some types of income we ask you to report on the application or may not receive income at all. Whenever this happens, write a 0 in the field. However, if any income fields are left empty or blank, those will also be counted as zeroes. Be careful when leaving income fields blank, as we will assume you meant to do so.

We are in the military. Do we report our income differently?
Your basic pay and cash bonuses must be reported as income. If you get any cash value allowances for off-base housing, food, or clothing, or receive Family Subsistence Supplemental Allowance payments, it must also be included as income. However, if your housing is part of the Military Housing Privatization Initiative, do not include your housing allowance as income. Any additional combat pay resulting from deployment is also excluded from income.

What if there isn’t enough space on the application for my family?
List any additional household members on a separate piece of paper and attach it to your application. Contact Alison Kreider, Admin Assistant to Food Service, alison_kreider@etownschools.org, 717-367-1521, ext. 21060 to receive a second application.

My family needs more help. Are there other programs we might apply for?
To find out how to apply for SNAP or other assistance benefits, visit www.compass.state.pa.us, contact your local county assistance office, or call 1-800-692-7462.  

What does my child get when he/she is approved for free meals?
Under the rules of the National School Lunch Program, students must be offered a meat/meat alternate, vegetable, fruit, bread & milk. There are no substitutes for milk without a doctor’s written order. Students must take at least three of the five food groups in order for the meal to be counted as a reimbursable lunch. In the elementary schools only one type of lunch is offered daily. At Bear Creek and in the middle and high schools there are two different types of lunches available: Value meal and Bear lunch. Your child may pick any of these meals for lunch. There are signs posted at each location stating what food items make up each meal.

Now that your child has been approved for free meals, how does he/she get a meal?
If your child has been approved for free price meals, he/she will need to bring his/her ID card to lunch each day. This card has a bar code on it that will be scanned by the cashier to make the purchase. No money needs to be deposited in his/her lunch account unless a la carte items will be purchased.

If my child packs a lunch, may he/she get a free milk?
No. To ensure that students get a well balanced meal, the National School Lunch Program will only reimburse the district for a lunch, not just milk.