ABILENE – The Abilene Independent School District announced on Tuesday that it will take part in a federal program to provide each student in the district with free breakfast and lunch for the 2021-22 school year. Typically, a student’s household must meet income eligibility requirements for free or reduced-price meals. However, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) issued guidance that allows schools to offer meals to all students at no cost for this school year.

However, a-la-carte items that are not part of the regular breakfast or lunch menu must still be purchased by students.

While no application or eligibility determination is required for your student to receive free meals this school year, income eligibility requirements will likely resume in the 2022-2023 school year. As such, the AISD will process household applications during the 2021-22 school year to ensure student eligibility for free or reduced-price meals during the first 30 days of the 2022-23 school year while 2022-23 applications are being processed. Each school/site or central office has a copy of the policy, which may be reviewed upon request. 

• Beginning on Aug. 3, 2021, the AISD will begin distributing letters to the households of the children in the district of Abilene about these 2022-23 eligibility benefits and actions households need to take to apply. Applications also are available online at www.abileneisd.org, at the Student Nutrition Department, 241 Pine ST. Abilene TX, 79601 and/or at your child’s school.

Criteria for Free and Reduced-Price Meal Benefits to Start the 2022-23 School Year
The following criteria will be used to determine a child’s eligibility for free or reduced-price meal benefits at the beginning of the 2022-23 school year:

1. Household income that is at or below the income eligibility levels.

Categorical or Automatic Eligibility
2. Household receiving Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF); or Food Distribution Program on Indian Reservations (FDPIR).

Program Participant
3. Child’s status as a foster child, homeless, runaway, migrant, or displaced by a declared disaster.
4. Child’s enrollment in Head Start or Even Start.

Income Eligibility
For those households that qualify for free or reduced-price meals based on income, an adult in the household must complete the free and reduced-price meal application and return it to Sylvia Alaniz, Meal Benefits Coordinator 325-677-1444 ext. 8152. Those individuals filling out the application will need to provide the following information:
1. Names of all household members.
2. Amount, frequency, and source of current income for each household member.
3. Last 4 digits of the Social Security number of the adult household member who signs the application or, if the adult does not have a social security number, check the box for “No Social Security number.”
4. Signature of an adult household member attesting that the information provided is correct.

Categorical or Program Eligibility
The AISD is working with local agencies to identify all children who are categorically and program eligible. Abilene Independent School District will notify the households of these children that they do not need to complete an application. Any household that does not receive a letter and feels it should have should contact Sylvia Alaniz, Meal Benefits Coordinator at the Student Nutrition Department at 325-677-1444 ext. 8152 sylvia.alaniz@abileneisd.org.

Any household that wishes to decline benefits should contact Sylvia Alaniz, Meal Benefits Coordinator at the Student Nutrition Department at 325-677-1444 ext. 8152 sylvia.alaniz@abileneisd.org.

Applications may be submitted anytime during the school year. The information households provide on the application will be used to determine eligibility. Applications may also be verified by the school officials at any time during the school year.

Determining Eligibility
Under the provisions of the free and reduced-price meal policy, Sylvia Alaniz, Meal Benefits Coordinator at the Student Nutrition Department at 325-677-1444 ext. 8152 Sylvia.alaniz@abileneisd.org will review applications and determine eligibility. Households or guardians dissatisfied with the Reviewing Official’s eligibility determination may wish to discuss the decision with the Reviewing Official on an informal basis. Households wishing to make a formal appeal for a hearing on the decision may make a request either orally or in writing to Scott Mclean, Associate Superintendent, 241 Pine St, Abilene Texas, 79601 325-677-1444 – Hearing Official.

Unexpected Circumstances
If a household member becomes unemployed or if the household size increases, the household should contact the school. Such changes may make the children of the household eligible for benefits if the household’s income falls at or below the attached current income eligibility guidelines.