Cherokee School District spokeswoman Barbara Jacoby said the “usual annual adjustments” were made by the USDA to eligibility levels.
Jacoby said the latest state figures from October 2012 showed 39,270 students enrolled in local Cherokee district schools, and a total of 31.75 percent of those students qualified for free or reduced-price meals.
“Of those, 10,369 qualified for free lunch and 2,100 qualified for reduced price lunch, under the USDA School Lunch guidelines,” Jacoby said.
The guidelines for eligibility for the free and reduced-price meals program are based on household income and shift with the number of people in a household.
To receive free meals, for a student in a house with three people, the yearly income for the house would need to be at or below $25,389, the guidelines show.
For a student in a house of three to receive reduced-price meals, the yearly income would have to be at or below $36,131.
Students who live in a home that receives Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, commonly referred to as SNAP, or Temporary Assistance for Needy Families benefits, are also eligible for free meals.
Free and reduced-price meal program applications can be submitted at any time during the school year, according to the guidelines, and homes that receive SNAP or TANF benefits are only required to list the child’s name and a member of the home’s SNAP or TANF case number, along with the adult’s signature.
Each public school has a copy of the free and reduced-price meal policy, which states who is responsible for determining eligibility.
Foster children who are in the care of the state, or placed with a caretaker by the state, by, are also eligible for free meals.