Qualifying for Some School Meals May Get Easier

HARRISBURG PA – It could soon become easier for families in low-income households to ensure their students receive free or reduced-price meals in Pennsylvania schools.

Pennsylvania is one of 14 states that were selected Thursday (Jan. 12, 2023) by the U.S. Department of Agriculture to participate in an expansion of a program evaluating the use of Medicaid eligibility data to recognize students who qualify for school meal subsidies.

In the past, most students who receive free-or reduced-price meals have been certified based on information in applications submitted by parents or guardians at the start of the academic year. The department is experimenting with adding Medicaid to a list of benefit programs that would allow students to “directly certify” for the meals.

The department called it a “win-win for students, families, and school officials.” It means less paperwork for families, it said, and fewer school meal applications for districts to process and verify. It also decreases errors, department Mid-Atlantic Region Administrator Dr. Patty Bennett said.

Remaining states selected to participate are Arizona, Colorado, Delaware, Georgia, Montana, New Mexico, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, South Dakota, Tennessee, Vermont, and Wyoming. The department did not specify when the change would take effect.

Photo by Obi – @pixel7propix via Unsplash, used under license