Frequently Asked Questions

How do I apply for free and reduced meal benefits for my child(ren)?
If your household gets FOOD STAMPS OR TEMPORARY ASSISTANCE, follow these instructions:

Part 1: List child(ren)'s name, school, and grade.
Part 2: If any child or adult in the household is receiving Food Stamp or Temporary Assistance provide the name and case number. Food Stamp/Temporary Assistance number is a ten digit number and the first two digits currently are "00". A 16-digit Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) card number is NOT acceptable. Currently an EBT number starts with 5076. If you do not know your Food Stamp or Temporary Assistance number, call your local Family Support Division, Social Services office.
Part 3: Skip this part.
Part 4: Skip this part.
Part 5: Sign the form. A Social Security Numbers is not necessary.
Part 6: Answer this question if you chose to.

f you are applying for a FOSTER CHILD or a household with a foster child(ren), follow these instructions:

Part 1: List the child's name, school, grade, personal use income received (write "0" if no personal use income) and check box. List all non-foster children in household, name of school, grade and income.
Part 2: Skip this part.
Part 3: Skip this part.
Part 4: If there are non-foster children in the household, follow directions in ALL OTHER HOUSEHOLDS, Part 4.
Part 5: Sign the form. If filling out for only foster children, a Social Security Number is not necessary. If additional non-foster children are in the household, list last four digits of Social Security Number of the adult signing the form or mark the box if he or she does not have one.
Part 6: Answer this question if you choose to:

ALL OTHER HOUSEHOLDS, including WIC households, follow these instructions:

Part 1: List each child's name, school, grade, and income if applicable.
Part 2: Skip this part.
Part 3: Skip this part.
Part 4: Follow these instructions to report total household income from last month.
Column 1-Name: List the first and last name of each person not listed in Part 1, living in your household, related or not (such as grandparents, other relatives, or friends) including yourself. Attach another sheet of paper if you need to. Column 2-Gross income last month and how often it was received. Next to each person's name list each type of income received last month, and how often it was received. For example, Earnings from work: List the gross income each person earned from work. This is not the same as take-home pay. Gross income is the amount earned before taxes and other deductions. The amount should be listed on your pay stub, or your boss can tell you. Next to the amount, write how often the person received it. If you are in the Military Housing Privatization initiative do not include this house allowance: Exclude military combat pay received by service members during a deployment. Column 3-Check if no income: If the person does not have any income, check the box.
Part 5: An adult household member must sign the form and list his or her last four digits of Social Security Number of the adult signing the form, or mark the box if he or she doesn't have one.
Part 6: Answer this question if you choose to.

What are the income guidelines for the free/reduced meal program?
The National School Lunch and Breakfast program use USDA Income Eligibility Guidelines, which are adjusted annually based on cost of living. These guidelines are used when approving applications for children who apply to receive a free or reduced meal. Free meal benefit guidelines are 130% of Federal poverty guidelines and reduced are 185% of poverty guidelines.

Why does my child bring home an application for meal benefits every year?
The National School Lunch and School Breakfast Program require an application be sent home with each district student. The program provides free and reduced meals for children of families unable to pay full price for meals. To apply for these benefits, parents of students must fill out this application and return it to the school office. A new application must be filled out at the beginning of each new school year, on a current year application form. Meal benefits begin on the day the application is approved in the school office and continues throughout the school year and approximately the first thirty days of the next school year. Any student who does not have a current application on file will be unable to receive free/reduced meal benefits after thirty calendar days into the new school year.

Why was my child's application denied for free/reduced benefits?
To understand why an application is denied, it is important to know how the application is reviewed. The Nutrition Services designee approves all applications based on federal criteria in three different areas:
1) Food Stamp or Temp. Assistance families automatically qualify for free meals if a food stamp number is provided on the application.
2) Foster children, who are placed in a home by the state, automatically qualify for free meals provided this information is on the application.
3) Income/household families must be evaluated for eligibility based on the size of household and the monthly income.

If the application does not meet the federal income guidelines, or if the application is not correctly completed, then it may be denied. If there is a question, the parent is encouraged to discuss the situation with the Nutrition Services office.

Why was my child's application selected for income verification?
Federal guidelines require all sponsors of the National School Lunch program to conduct income verification on a pre-selected percentage of all applications on file as of October 30 of each year. Applications at each school site are randomly selected for verification by using district-approved procedures. Within a specified time period, parents/guardians must provide adequate documentation to substantiate income. If information is not provided, the student(s) will lose free/reduced meal benefits.

How can I make a deposit on my child's account, check their account balance, or track history of food purchases?
Prepaying for breakfast, lunch and/or ala carte items is an efficient way to pay for your student's school meals. Meals may be paid either by check, cash or money order. The school Nutrition Services cashier will provide a friendly reminder when his/her account balance is getting low, but it is always helpful for parents to keep track of the meals and snacks their child purchases. Parents/Guardians can set up an account through Lunch Link to access their child's account to view account balance and activity only. To access Lunch Link go to the SJSD web page. Prepaying must be done at the child's school site.

How can I limit what my child can purchase from his/her account?
A child's account can be blocked from ala carte purchases at the parent's request. The “block” will allow the account to only be used for full meals and will remain in effect until the cafeteria manager is contacted to remove this block. Parents should send written instruction to the cafeteria manager at the school their child attends to request this service.

What is the charge policy for the Nutrition Services Department?
Low balance notices are sent home with elementary students at least once a week. A verbal notice is given to middle/high school students when account is low on funds. Parents and guardians are encouraged to monitor student accounts through our on-line web access, Lunch Link. Parents are also encouraged to pre-pay at the child's school so accounts do not become delinquent. Ala carte items may never be charged.

What is the procedure for “no ID card”?
Students in grades 7-12 not carrying an ID card will be placed at the end of the serving line. Doing a “name look-up” takes additional time, so it is done only at the end of the serving line. This is done so students who habitually carry their ID cards may be afforded as much time as possible to enjoy their meals. All ala carte purchases must be done using an ID card. NO ala carte purchases will be allowed without an ID card.

>What happens to money left in my child's account at the end of the school year?

How do I receive a refund on my students account?
Refunds will be made by the Nutrition Services office only when a student is either leaving the district or graduating. “Request for Refund” forms must be completed and sent to:

Nutrition Services Office
1000 South 9th Street
St. Joseph, MO 64503

Refunds will only be paid to parent/guardian listed in the student information file. Refunds will be made for amounts over $5.00 in the form of a check issued by the Nutrition Services office and sent to the address listed on the “Request for Refund” form. Students are encouraged to zero out their accounts prior to graduation/leaving the district and the school may establish a policy of accepting cash from these graduating students 1-2 weeks prior to graduation to assist the students in this effort.

Who determines the lunch time periods for my child's school?
Each individual school principal establishes meal times. Federal guidelines state that lunch periods shall occur between 10:00 a.m. and 2:00 p.m. Breakfast is usually served 30 minutes prior to the school day beginning. Federal guidelines also state that there needs to be at least 2 hours from the end of breakfast to the beginning of lunch. Schools are encouraged to provide an adequate number of lunch periods that are sufficient in length to ensure all students have an opportunity to be served and a reasonable amount of time to eat their meals.

Who writes the menu for the Nutrition Services Department?
Feedback is also received through managers, students and staff. All menus must follow the National School Breakfast and Lunch requirements for food items, portion sizes and nutritional requirements.

How does the Nutrition Services Department handle special diets or allergies?
Special diets and food allergies (including milk allergies) require a special diet form from a certified doctor to be on file with the school cafeteria manager. A new form is required each school year and should be sent to the cafeteria manager at the school your child attends. A memo will be placed on your child's account to remind the cashier of the allergy or special diet. Questions or concerns should be directed to the Nutrition Services office.

Why do adults pay more for their meals than the students?
The district receives federal reimbursement for meals served to children only. The value of this reimbursement plus any donated commodities must not be used to subsidize adult meals.

How do I become an employee for the Nutrition Services Department?
The department is looking for enthusiastic, hardworking individuals who are compassionate in working with our children. Applications may be obtained at 1000 South 9th Street, St. Joseph.

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