Form has nothing to do with free meals
Although Central Valley provides free meals to all students who eat in Central Valley schools, the district risks losing a portion of its federal school aid because parents are not completing household income forms.
The problem is tied to the school’s new free meals policy.
“The form is the same as the old free and reduced school meal application, so parents are not completing the forms. They say ‘I’m not submitting the form because I already get my meals for free.’ They don’t understand that the U.S. Department of Education uses that data to determine school aid,” said Superintendent Rich Hughes.
The federal government uses the number of students who qualify for free and reduced price meals to calculate the district’s Title I grant—aid to high-need school districts. Every student who would normally qualify for free or reduced price meals increases funding. At this point, the district’s free and reduced numbers are almost 10 percent lower than last year. This places a portion of the district’s estimated $500,000-$600,000 of Title I funding in jeopardy.
Some families are reluctant to complete the form because it asks about household income.
“We understand that family finances are a personal matter, so we take steps to insure those details are not shared with anyone. That personal information is strictly confidential,” said Dr. Hughes.
Director of Food Services Barbara Cristman reviews each application to determine whether a household would qualify for free or reduced price meals. She does not share income details or personal information.
The district is occasionally audited by the state to ensure Mrs. Cristman follows proper procedures, but again, no one is focused on or making note of family income data. The goal to make certain the district properly calculates and reports its numbers.
Take a moment to complete and return the form
Completing the form is important to the district and its students. The district asks all families to take a few moments to complete the form. It only takes a few minutes and is confidential. Download the CEP Provision 2 Household Income Form.
Note: Families who receive SNAP, Medicaid or TANF benefits are not required to complete the form.