New Eligibility Guidelines For Free And Reduced School Meals Announced For The 2024-25 School Year, Helping More Families Access Resources (June 29, 2024)

06/27/2024

On June 27, 2024, the Pennsylvania Department of Education (PDE) announced that the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) released federal income eligibility guidelines for free and reduced-price school meals and free milk for July 2024 – June 2025, expanding access to resources and helping more kids and their families get what they need to fuel their minds and bellies.

Schools, and other institutions and facilities, use the guidelines to determine eligibility for the National School Lunch Program, the School Breakfast Program, the Special Milk Program for Children, the Child and Adult Care Food Program, and the Summer Food Service Program.

“The Shapiro Administration has signaled its commitment to addressing food insecurity by providing universal free breakfast to public school students, and expanding access to nutritious meals throughout the day through the free and reduced program,” said Secretary of Education Dr. Khalid N. Mumin. “We know that students need to be fed to focus, learn, and achieve, and we encourage all previously eligible and newly eligible households to apply for this incredible program.”

To apply, households receiving benefits from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) or Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) need only include the SNAP or TANF case number on their application. Households enrolled in the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) or Medicaid may qualify for free or reduced-price school meals based on income and should complete a Household Meal Benefit Application. Other households can find more information on the commonwealth’s COMPASS website.

In accordance with federal civil rights law and USDA civil rights regulations and policies, this institution is prohibited from discriminating on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex (including gender identity and sexual orientation), disability, age, or reprisal or retaliation for prior civil rights activity.

Program information may be made available in languages other than English. Persons with disabilities who require alternative means of communication to obtain program information (e.g., Braille, large print, audiotape, American Sign Language), should contact the responsible state or local agency that administers the program or USDA’s TARGET Center at (202) 720-2600 (voice and TTY) or contact USDA through the Federal Relay Service at (800) 877-8339.

The following annual income eligibility guidelines are effective July 1, 2024, until further notice:

Free Meals – 130%
Household Size​Annual​Monthly​Twice per Month(24 pay periods/year)Every Two Weeks(26 pay periods/year)Weekly
​1​$19,578.00$1,632.00$816.00$753.00$377.00
​2$26,572.00$2,215.00$1,108.00$1,022.00$511.00
​3$33,566.00$2,798.00$1,399.00$1,291.00$646.00​
​4$40,560.00$3,380.00$1,690.00$1,560.00$780.00
​5$47,554.00$3,963.00$1,982.00$1,892.00$915.00
​6$54,548.00$4,546.00$2,273.00$2,098.00$1049.00
​7$61,542.00$5,129.00$2,565.00$2,367.00$1,184.00
​8$68,536.00$5,712.00$2,856.00$2,636.00$1,318.00
For each add’l family member, add$6,994.00$583.00$292.00$269.00$135.00
Reduced Price meals – 185%
Household Size​Annual​Monthly​Twice per Month(24 pay periods/year)Every Two Weeks(26 pay periods/year)Weekly
​1$27,861.00$2,322.00$1,161.00$1,072.00$536.00
​2$37,814.00$3,152.00$1,576.00$1455.00$728.00
​3$47,767.00$3,961.00$1,991.00$1838.00​$919.00
​4$57,720.00$4,810.00$2,405.00$2,220.00$1,110.00
​5$67,673.00$5,640.00$2,820.00$2,603.00$1,302.00
​6$77,626.00$6,469.00$3,235.00$2,986.00$1,493.00
​7$87,579.00$7,299.00$3,650.00$3,369.00$1,685.00
​8$97,532.00$8,128.00$4,064.00$3,752.00$1876.00

For each add’l family member, add$9,953.00$830.00$415.00$383.00$192.00

To file a program discrimination complaint, a Complainant should complete a Form AD-3027, USDA Program Discrimination Complaint Form which can be obtained online at: https://www.usda.gov/sites/default/files/documents/ad-3027.pdf, from any USDA office by calling (866) 632-9992, or by writing a letter addressed to USDA. The letter must contain the complainant’s name, address, telephone number, and a written description of the alleged discriminatory action in sufficient detail to inform the Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights (ASCR) about the nature and date of an alleged civil rights violation. The completed AD-3027 form or letter must be submitted to USDA by:

mail:
U.S. Department of Agriculture
Office of the Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights
1400 Independence Avenue, SW
Washington, D.C. 20250-9410; or

fax:
(833) 256-1665 or (202) 690-7442; or

email:
[email protected]

PA “Meets Requirements” as USDE Eyes IDEA Part B Updates (June 29, 2024)

According to 2022 fiscal year data, 38 states, territories, and the District of Columbia were categorized as “needs assistance” with regard to implementing special education requirements and improving student outcomes  for students ages 3-21 during the year evaluated or for two or more consecutive years. On June 21st, the U.S. Department of Education (USDE) released a list of state determinations. The previous year’s “needs assistance”  number was 35.

Twenty states and the Republic of the Marshall Islands earned the highest rating of “meets requirements.” No state fell into the lowest-performing category of “needs substantial intervention.” The Bureau of Indian Education received a rating of “needs intervention,” which is the next-to-last category.

According to The Advocacy Institute, a nonprofit organization that tracks IDEA state determinations, only six states — Kansas, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Missouri, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin — have been rated as “meets requirements” each year since 2014.

As reported by K-12 Dive, for 2025 and beyond the USDE is considering three updates related to IDEA Part B determinations as part of efforts to “incorporate equity and improve results for children with disabilities.” These new provisions could include:
–Whether a state would be prohibited from attaining “meets requirements” if OSEP had identified long-standing noncompliance for at least three or more years.
–Additional factors for improvement in proficiency rates on regular and alternate statewide assessments. 
–Whether and how to continue including NAEP participation and proficiency in the state determinations. 

Additionally, the USDE is looking at two adjustments in IDEA Part C determinations. One would factor in long-standing noncompliance. The other concerns whether and how to consider certain data on results for child outcomes.

For more from K-12 Dive, click here.

PA Receives CMS School-Based Services Grant, CMS Provides New Resources (June 28, 2024)

On June 25, 2024, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) announced the 18 states that are award recipients of the grants for the Implementation, Enhancement, and Expansion of Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) School-Based Services (SBS). The states will use these funds to implement, support, or enhance their efforts to connect millions more children to critical health care services, especially mental health services, at school. Made possible by the historic investments of the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act (BSCA), the states will each receive at least $2.5 million over 3 years for the implementation, enhancement, and expansion of the use of school-based health services through Medicaid and CHIP.

Additionally, the CMS school-based services technical assistance center released two additional resources as a part of its continual effort to support states in implementing school-based services in their schools. They are:
Medicaid School-Based Services Readiness Checklist Tool: A resource to help state Medicaid agencies draft an SBS state plan amendment (SPA), adopt certain flexibilities, and generally assist in the process of working with CMS to reimburse for SBS.
Updated School-Based Services Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs): Additional technical assistance FAQs for state Medicaid agencies based on questions received from the states.

To see the full list of states and learn more about the grants, visit Medicaid.gov.

Distributed by Center for Medicaid and CHIP Services (CMCS).

Sickle Cell Disease, Epilepsy and Cancer could Trigger Student Civil Rights Protections (June 25, 2024)

According to a new set of resources issued on June 20, 2024 the U.S. Department of Education’s (USDE) Office for Civil Rights (OCR), medical conditions such as sickle cell disease, epilepsy, and cancer could trigger protections in K-12 and postsecondary schools under Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, which protects people against disability discrimination. Some of the accommodations listed in the new resources include allowing students with cancer to consume food and water during classes and excusing students with sickle cell disease from class to go to medical appointments. In addition, students experiencing a seizure may have a sudden onset of emotions or display repetitive behaviors, such as twitches and mouth movements.

The new set of USDE resources follow OCR’s February release of guidance for civil rights protections for students with asthma, diabetes, food allergies, and gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) or gastroesophageal reflux (GER). Schools could face an OCR investigation if there is a complaint that these rights are being violated.

OCR is responsible for enforcing Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits discrimination based on race, color or national origin.

For more from K-12 Dive, click here.

New USDA Nutritional Standards Go into Effect on July 1st (June 24, 2024)

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) rule for updating school nutrition standards is set to go into effect on July 1st. The USDA’s approved changes include new limits on added sugars and sodium in school meals, which are the largest driving costs in the rule. In fact, since  the finalized regulation is expected to cost school districts an extra 3 cents per meal on average, according to a recent Congressional Research Service (CRS) report, the CRS pointed out that the USDA has cited several available federal resources — including its Healthy Meals Incentives initiative and the Patrick Leahy Farm to School Grant Program — as possible funding sources to help ease the increase in cost.

For more from K-12 Dive, click here.