Available Programs Reimbursements Resources
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Determining Eligibility

In centers, participants from households with incomes at or below 130 percent of poverty are eligible for free meals.  Participants in centers with household incomes between 130 percent and 185 percent of poverty are eligible for meals at a reduced price. Institutions must determine each enrolled participant’s eligibility for free and reduced price meals served in centers.

Sponsoring organizations of day care homes must determine which day care homes are eligible for tier I rates and, if requested, which children are eligible to receive meals reimbursed at tier I rates in tier II day care homes.

A participant’s eligibility for free and reduced price meals in centers or for tier I meals in day care homes, may be established by submission of an income eligibility statement, which provides information about family size and income.  The information submitted by each household is compared with USDA’s Income Eligibility Guidelines.

Children whose families receive benefits from the Food Stamp Program, Food Distribution Program on Indian Reservations (FDPIR), or State programs funded through Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) are categorically eligible for free meals.  Children who are income-eligible participants of Head Start or Even Start programs are automatically eligible for free meals, without further application or eligibility determination.

Children who are residents of emergency shelters are also automatically eligible for free meals.

Adults who receive food stamps, FDPIR, Social Security Income (SSI), or Medicaid benefits are categorically eligible for free meals.

Tier I day care homes are those that are located in low-income areas, or those in which the provider’s household income is at or below 185 percent of the Federal income poverty guidelines.  Sponsoring organizations may use elementary school free and reduced price enrollment data or census block group data to determine which areas are low-income.

Tier II homes are those family day care homes which do not meet the location or provider income criteria for a tier I home.  The provider in a tier II home may elect to have the sponsoring organization identify income-eligible children, so that meals served to those children who qualify for free and reduced price meals would be reimbursed at the higher tier I rates.

A child’s eligibility for tier I rates in a tier II day care home may be documented through submission of an income eligibility statement which details family size and income or participation in any of a number of means-tested State or Federal programs with eligibility at or below 185 percent of poverty.

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