Qualifying families can sign up for free or reduced lunches at Utah schools

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SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – Families who need financial help to feed their students during the school year can now apply for free or reduced price meals.

Students on summer break didn’t have to go without lunch, thanks to free meals provided by a state education program.

Abigail Woodward, an elementary student from Ogden, appreciated their generosity.

“It’s nice just to see a friendly face every day giving you delicious lunch,” Woodward said.

With school ramping back up, many families will need to continue taking advantage of this benefit. They may qualify under new guidelines announced by the Utah State Office of Education. The guidelines are rolled out every year and are based on inflation.

Families living at 130 percent of the federal poverty line or below, qualify for free meals. For example, a family of four living on $31,525 or less is eligible for free meals.

In 2014, 36 percent of Utah students were given free or reduced price meals. In the Ogden School District, they’re seeing a greater need.

“Last year we had 75 percent of our students who qualified for free or reduced price lunch,” said Kristine Scott, a nutritionist for the Ogden School District.

She adds: “We have seen a drop in the unemployment rate. The economy is getting better, and we think fewer people are requiring to turn to federal assistance.”

The Ogden School District offers both lunch and breakfast, and there are some schools in the state that also offer after school snacks.

“We know that there’s a strong correlation and link between proper nutrition and academic performance,” Anderson said.

Education leaders encourage families to apply, even if they think they may not meet all the requirements.

“There are a lot of misconceptions out there or perceived barriers that prevent people from applying for the program," Anderson said. "For example, immigration status is not a factor when applying for our programs."

If you’d like to take a look at the income guidelines, click here. 

There’s no deadline to apply, and you can apply any time during the year if your financial situation changes.

Once you’re approved, the benefits are good for the whole year.

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