Orange County Public Schools is asking all parents – whether they need the assistance or not – to apply for free or reduced meals before Tuesday, September 22, to help ensure that schools can maintain or expand the availability of such benefits in 2020-2021, according to a Tuesday, September 1, press release from the district.
Despite individual student need, every submitted application helps schools receive funding and resources.
Currently, based on income, 68 percent of OCPS families – seven out of 10 students – are eligible to receive free or reduced school meals.
“Some families may be relying on meal benefits for the first time ever due to pandemic-induced hardships, while others may forget to apply amidst the many decisions they’ve had to make recently,” Lora Gilbert, senior director of the district’s Food and Nutrition Services, was quoted as saying in the press release. “But no child should worry about hunger. This program not only helps students in need, but it also helps families save money and gives parents the convenience of providing nutritional meals for their children every day of the week.”
With free and reduced meal benefits, all eligible children attending school through virtual or in-person learning can receive a healthy breakfast and lunch. At select schools, supper is available as well.
Families must submit a new application every year to receive meal benefits. Eligibility is determined by the total household income. Families can save between $450-$1,479 per child per school year.
In addition to meal benefits, families are eligible for reduced-cost internet, utilities and summer camp, as well as free ACT and SAT testing.
Food and Nutrition Services operates under strict nutrition guidelines and is regulated by the United States Department of Agriculture.
Currently, 133 of OCPS’ 216 schools participate in the Community Eligibility Program (CEP) and provide free meals to students. Twenty-four schools were added to the CEP list in advance of the 2020-2021 school year. Eighty-three schools remain eligible for meal benefits.
The application for the 2020-2021 school year can be filled out online and takes between 15-30 minutes per household. To apply for meal benefits, visit www.myschoolapps.com.
For more information about OCPS Food and Nutrition Services and the meal benefits program, visit the OCPS Food and Nutrition Services website or call 407-858-3110, ext. 329- 3966.