Parents can make a little more money this year, and their kids can still eat for free at school.
Updated federal income guidelines allow a family of four, for example, to earn about $400 more each year, and still qualify for the free lunch and breakfast program.
Rhinelander school district Food Service Director Pat Karaba says she hopes the stigma of the program is disappearing.
“No one knows when they’re going through a lunch line or a breakfast line, who’s free and who’s not, or who’s reduced and who’s not. You know there’s no different colored meal tickets like there used to be years ago.”
The Rhinelander School District is encouraging families to apply and see if they qualify for free or reduced price lunch. It depends on family size and annual income.
Karaba says at least half the students at the high school eat for free or reduced price, and the percentage is higher at the elementary and middle school levels.
“We have seen an increase, and we’ve also seen the direct certification – where if you’re already receiving state benefits, you automatically qualify and don’t have to go through that paperwork, which is nice for the families.”
The school district is getting ready to mail out applications for the program in the coming days.