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Patriot Perspective: Families should apply for free, reduced price meals

It's never too late to fill out the Application for Educational Benefits form. What's that, you ask? Any child attending Pequot Lakes Schools may purchase a meal through the National School Breakfast and Lunch Program. Schools that participate in...

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It's never too late to fill out the Application for Educational Benefits form.

What's that, you ask?

Any child attending Pequot Lakes Schools may purchase a meal through the National School Breakfast and Lunch Program. Schools that participate in the School Nutrition Programs accept Applications for Educational Benefits for free and reduced price meal benefits. These application forms, along with an informational letter, are sent to each household at the beginning of August and may be submitted at any time during the school year.

Approval to receive these benefits is based on a comparison of the household's income to current U.S. Department of Agriculture household income guidelines. Children from families with income between 130 percent and 185 percent of the poverty level are eligible for free or reduced priced meals.

All that's required is that you submit an application with your income listed, as well as list all the people living in the household. If anyone in your household receives Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), Minnesota Family Investment Program (MFIP) or Food Distribution Program on Indian Reservations (FDPIR), you are automatically eligible for free meals. Just send in an application with your case number.

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Who can apply? Any household can apply at any time if you think your income is within the USDA guidelines. Even if you are not sure, please fill out an application and send it in to your school's food service department to check. Your application will be reviewed confidentially and you will receive a letter with the outcome.

If your household does qualify, it can help both you and the school district in several ways. For example, the insurance on student Chromebooks is less expensive and athletic fees can be reduced for these households. The school can apply for additional educational funds and discounts if the free and reduced percentage is at a certain level.

The free and reduced percentage determines the number of hours allocated for Minnesota Reading Corps tutors. The higher the percentage, the more tutors we are provided. Various grants are also awarded based these percentages.

The food service department receives funding from both the state and federal governments for each meal served. We receive more funding per meal if the student is considered free or reduced than if this student purchases his/her meals at full price. This helps the food service program continue to offer free breakfast for all students and allows us to continue to purchase locally sourced products, such as fruits, vegetables and ground turkey.

All this is in addition to the nutritional and educational benefits each child receives through healthy meals while at school. It takes a lot of energy to fuel a young child's body and even more as they grow older.

So, please, if you have not yet done so, fill out an Application for Educational Benefits and submit it in person or mail to the food service department, as follows.

Pequot Lakes School District

Attn: Patty Buell / Food Service Department

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30805 Olson Road

Pequot Lakes, MN 56472

Forms are available in each school office and online at www.isd186.org . Click on "Parents," then "Menus" and then "2018-19 Application for Educational Benefits" under the Links section.

Related Topics: PATRIOT PERSPECTIVE
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