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RIDE Releases Income Eligibility Guidelines for Free and Reduced Price Meals

PROVIDENCE, R.I. - Angélica Infante-Green, Commissioner of Elementary and Secondary Education, announced the Income Eligibility Guidelines for free or reduced-price meals or free milk for the 2020-2021 school year. These guidelines are effective from July 1, 2020 to June 30, 2021:

Free Meals Reduced-Price Meals
Number in Family Annual Gross Income Monthly Gross Income Biweekly Gross Income Weekly Gross Income Annual Gross Income Monthly Gross Income Biweekly Gross Income Weekly Gross Income
1 16,588 1,383 638 319 23,606 1,968 908 454
2 22,412 1,868 862 431 31,894 2,658 1,227 614
3 28,236 2,353 1,086 543 40,182 3,349 1,546 773
4 34,060 2,839 1,310 655 48,470 4,040 1,865 933
5 39,884 3,324 1,534 767 56,758 4,730 2,183 1,092
6 45,708 3,809 1,758 879 65,046 5,421 2,502 1,251
7 51,532 4,295 1,982 991 73,334 6,112 2,821 1,411
8 57,356 4,780 2,206 1,103 81,622 6,802 3,140 1,570
Each Add'l Family Member +5,824 +486 +224 +112 +8,288 +691 +319 +160


Meal Benefit Applications (MBA) are sent to all households, along with a letter about the free and reduced-price program. The information provided on the application by a household is confidential and will be used to determine school meal benefits. Applications based on income must contain complete documentation of eligibility information requested, including: (1) names of all household members, (2) amount and source of income received by each household member, (3) last four digits of the social security number of the adult household member who signs the application or the adult household member has checked the box indicating he/she does not have a social security number, and (4) the signature of an adult household member certifying that the information provided is correct.

Households may turn in an application at any time during the school year. If you are not eligible now, but your household income goes down, household size goes up, or a household member starts receiving SNAP or RIWorks, you may turn in an application at that time. Information given on the application will be used to determine eligibility and may be verified at any time during the school year by school officials.

Children in households receiving Special Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) or RIWorks cash assistance are automatically eligible for school meal benefits. Children who meet the definition of foster, homeless, migrant, or runaway, and children enrolled in their school’s Head Start program are eligible for free meals.

The Rhode Island Department of Education (RIDE) and the Rhode Island Department of Human Services (DHS) have worked together to automate the Direct Certification process that certifies students for free school meal benefits. This process is called Electronic Direct Certification (eDC). These families will receive an informational letter from DHS indicating that the children are automatically eligible for school meal benefits and no further action is needed.

Households receiving SNAP that have not been matched by the eDC process will receive a letter from DHS instructing them to bring the letter to the school and a meal benefit application is not required. Households receiving SNAP or RIWorks that have not been issued letters, can report their SNAP or RIWorks case number on the MBA in place of household income information

Households do not need to turn in an application when the household receives a notification letter saying that all children automatically qualify for free meals when any household member receives benefits from SNAP and RIWorks. Contact school officials if any child in the household is not on the notification letter. The household must let school officials know if they do not want to receive free or reduced-price meals.

Your child’s eligibility status from last school year will continue into the new school year for up to 30 school days or until the school processes your new application or your child is otherwise determined to be eligible for free or reduced-price meals. After the 30 school days, your child will have to pay full price for meals, unless the household receives a notification letter for free or reduced-price meals. School officials do not have to send reminder or expired eligibility notices.

This institution is an equal opportunity provider.

Contact: Pete Janhunen, Acting Communications Director,