New Eligibility Guidelines for Free and Reduced School Meals Announced for the 2020-21 School Year

HARRISBURG, PA — The Pennsylvania Department of Education this week announced that updated federal income eligibility guidelines for free and reduced-price school meals and free milk for the 2020-21 school year have been released by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). The new guidelines took effect on July 1, 2020.

Schools, and other institutions and facilities, use these guidelines to determine eligibility for the National School Lunch Program, the School Breakfast Program, the Special Milk Program for Children, the Child and Adult Care Food Program, and the Summer Food Service Program.

“Food insecurity affects families across the commonwealth, and it is an issue that the department, in collaboration with other state agencies and outside partners, has worked hard to address,” said Secretary of Education Pedro A. Rivera. “Programs like free and reduced-price meals are vital to providing at-risk students with critical nourishment, which helps them improve their overall health and well-being, and stay focused and perform better in school.”

Rivera noted that the breadth of food insecurity was evident and a major concern during the state-mandated school closure due to COVID-19 from March through June, but that communities around the state mobilized to continue to provide meals. As a result, more than 24 million meals were served during the school closure.

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To apply households receiving benefits from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) or Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) need only include the SNAP or TANF case number on their application. Households enrolled in the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) may qualify for free or reduced-price school meals and should complete a Household Meal Benefit Application. Other households can find more information on the state’s COMPASS website.

In accordance with Federal civil rights law and U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) civil rights regulations and policies, the USDA, its Agencies, offices, and employees, and institutions participating in or administering USDA programs are prohibited from discriminating based on race, color, national origin, sex, disability, age, or reprisal or retaliation for prior civil rights activity in any program or activity conducted or funded by USDA.

Persons with disabilities who require alternative means of communication for program information (e.g. Braille, large print, audiotape, American Sign Language, etc.) should contact the Agency (State or local) where they applied for benefits.  Individuals who are deaf, hard of hearing, or have speech disabilities may contact USDA through the Federal Relay Service at (800) 877-8339.  Additionally, program information may be made available in languages other than English.

To file a program complaint of discrimination, complete the USDA Program Discrimination Complaint Form, (AD-3027) found online at:, and at any USDA office, or write a letter addressed to USDA and provide in the letter all of the information requested in the form.  To request a copy of the complaint form, call (866) 632-9992.  Submit your completed form or letter to USDA by:

(1) Mail: U.S. Department of Agriculture

             Office of the Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights

             1400 Independence Avenue, SW

             Washington, D.C. 20250-9410;

(2) Fax: (202) 690-7442; or

(3) E-mail: [email protected].

This institution is an equal opportunity provider.

The following annual income eligibility guidelines are effective July 1, 2020, until further notice:

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Family Size Free Meals or Milk Reduced Price Meals Not Eligible
(130% of Poverty Guidelines) (185% of Poverty Guidelines)
One $0 to $16,588 $16,589 to $23,606 $23,607 and up
Two $0 to $22,412 $22,413 to $31,894 $31,895 and up
Three $0 to $28,236 $28,237 to $40,182 $40,183 and up
Four $0 to $34,060 $34,061 to $48,470 $48,471 and up
Five $0 to $39,884 $39,885 to $56,758 $56,759 and up
Six $0 to $45,708 $45,709 to $65,046 $65,047 and up
Seven $0 to $51,532 $51,533 to $73,334 $73,335 and up
Eight $0 to $57,356 $57,357 to $81,622 $81,623 and up
For Each Additional Family Member Add: +$5,824 +$8,288 +$8,289
For more information about Pennsylvania’s education policies and programs visit the Department of Education’s website.

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