Free & Reduced Meals

Complete the Free & Reduced Meal Application Online

Frequently Asked Questions

Q. Who can get free or reduced-price meals?

  • All children in households receiving benefits from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP-formerly Food Assistance in Iowa), the Family Investment Program (FIP), or a few specific Medicaid programs are eligible for free or reduced-price meals.
  • Foster children that are under the legal responsibility of a foster care agency or court are eligible for free meals.
  • Children participating in their school’s Head Start program are eligible for free meals.
  • Children who meet the definition of homeless, runaway, or migrant are eligible for free meals.
  • Children may receive free or reduced price meals if your household’s income is at or below the limits on the Federal Income Eligibility Guidelines below. (Requires submitting an Application for Free and Reduced Price Meals/Milk.)

Federal Income Eligibility Guidelines for the 2022-2023 School Year

Household SizeYearlyMonthlyTwice per MonthEvery Two WeeksWeekly
Each additional person:8,732728364336168

Q. Should I fill out an application if I received a letter this school year saying my child(ren) are already approved for free or reduced price meals?  

A. No. Please read the notice letter sent to parents at the beginning of the school year carefully and follow the instructions. 

If any child(ren) in your household were missing from your notification, please contact Central Kitchen at 712-279-6862, or by e-mail at, as eligibility for free or reduced-price meals is extended to all school-age children in one household.  If you did not receive a notice letter but received a Free Lunch Notice from DHS, please submit the Free Lunch Notice from DHS to your child(ren’s) school(s).  You may add any student(s) living in your household who are not listed in the letter. 

If someone in your household receives food assistance and you did not receive a notice of any sort, you may complete a Free and Reduced Meal Application and include an applicable case number. Doing so will qualify your school-age child(ren) in your household for free meals. 

If you were informed that your child(ren) will get reduced-price meals automatically, please refer to the income guidelines in the chart above. If you feel you would qualify for free meal benefits, please complete a Free and Reduced Meals Application.

Q. What if we have foster children? 

A. Households with foster and non-foster children may choose to include the foster child as a household member. Doing so may help other children in the household qualify for benefits.  If the foster family is not eligible for free or reduced-price meal benefits, that does not prevent a foster child from receiving free meal benefits.

Q. How do I know if my child(ren) qualifies as homeless, migrant, or runaway? 

A. Ask yourself the following questions:

  • Do the members of my household lack a permanent address?
  • Are the members of my household staying together in a shelter, hotel, or another temporary housing arrangement?
  • Do the the members of my household relocate on a seasonal basis? 
  • Are any children living with me who have chosen to leave their prior family or household? 

If you believe the child(ren) in your household meets any of these descriptions and haven’t heard from the District, your child(ren) will qualify for free and reduced meals. Please contact the District’s homeless liaison at 712-279-6075 or email for assistance.

Q. Do I need to fill out an application for each child?

A. No. Please use ONE Free and Reduced Meals Application for all children in your household. We cannot approve an application unless all required information is submitted.

Q. My child’s application was approved last year. Do I need to fill out a new one? 

A. Yes. Your child’s application is only good for the school year the application is submitted. A previous year’s application does provide a carry-over period at the beginning of the following school year. If you qualified for free or reduced meals in 2020-2021 and would like to re-apply for benefits for the 2021-2022 school year, applications MUST be received by October 5, 2021 (30 days from the first day of school).  A new application is required to continue receiving benefits unless your child’s school provides you with a notice that your child is eligible for the 2021-2022 school year.

When the carry-over period ends, unless you are notified that your child(ren )will receive free or reduced meals or you submitted an application that was approved, you MUST pay full price for school meals. The district is not required to send a reminder or a notice of expired eligibility.

Q. I get WIC benefits. Can my child(ren) get free meals? 

A. Children in households participating in WIC may be eligible for free or reduced-price meals.  Please complete a Free and Reduced Meals Application.

Q. May I apply for free and reduced-price meals if someone in my household is not a u.s. citizen? 

A. Yes. You, your child(ren), or other household members do not have to be U.S. citizens to apply for free or reduced-price meals.

Q. Will the information I provide in the meal application be checked and/or confirmed by the Food Service Department? 

A. Yes. Our department may also ask you to send written proof of your household income that you reported on your application.  You are not required to provide proof in your application.

Q. If I don’t qualify for free and reduced-price meals now, may I apply later? 

A. Yes, you may apply at any time during the school year.  For example, children with a parent or guardian who becomes unemployed may become eligible for free or reduced-price meals if the household income drops below the income limit outlined in the chart above, if your household size increases, or if you begin receiving SNAP, FIP, or other benefits.

Q. What if I disagree with the decision about my application? 

A. Please contact your child’s school. You also may ask for a hearing by calling or writing to 

Sioux City Community School District Harry Hopkins Building
Attn. Rich Luze – Central Kitchen
3000 USHWY 75N, Sioux City, Iowa, 51105

or by email at

Q. What if my income is not always the same? 

A. In the application, please list the amount that you normally receive. For example, if you normally make $1000 each month, but you missed some work last month and only made $900, put down that you make $1000 per month.  If you regularly receive overtime pay, please include it in your application, but do not include it if you only receive overtime pay sometimes. If you have lost your job or had your hours or wages reduced, use your most current income.

Q. What if some household members have no income to report? 

A. One or some household members may not receive income. We ask you to report total household income on the application. If you or another household member do not receive income, please write a 0 in the appropriate person’s income field. Note: if any income fields are left empty or blank, those will also be counted as zeroes. 

Q. One or some members in my household are in the military. Do we report our income differently? 

A. Your base pay and cash bonuses must be reported as income. If you or someone in your household receives “cash value” allowances for off-base housing, food, or clothing, or receive Family Subsistence Supplemental Allowance payments, those allowances must also be included as income. However, if your housing is part of the Military Housing Privatization Initiative, do not include your housing allowance as income. There are currently no active Military Housing Projects in Iowa as found on Active Military Housing Projects.  Any additional combat pay resulting from deployment is also excluded from income.

Q. Do I need to provide my social security number? 

A. You are only required to provide the last four digits of the household’s primary wage earner’s Social Security Number or another adult household member (or an indication of “none”) is needed.

Q. What if there isn’t enough space on the application for all of the members in my household?

A. List any additional household members on a Supplemental Worksheet, and attach it to your application. Contact Central Kitchen at 712-279-6862, or by e-mail at to receive the Supplemental Worksheet.

Q. Who can get free milk?

A. If your school participates in the Special Milk Program for half-day kindergarteners, your kindergarten child may be eligible for free milk. Students who choose to buy extra milk with a meal, or if they eat breakfast or lunch and have an afternoon milk break, they are not eligible to receive free milk.

Q. My household needs more help.  Are there other programs we can apply for? 

A. To find out how to apply for SNAP or other assistance benefits, please visit or call 1-877-347-5678. Your child(ren) may be eligible for Hawki (children’s health insurance) or a waiver of school fees. 

Q. Can children with disabilities get food substitutions? 

A. If a child has a disability, as determined by a licensed medical professional, and the disability prevents the child from eating the planned school meal, the school will make substitutions prescribed by the licensed medical professional.  If a substitution is needed, there will be no extra charge for the meal.  Please note: the school is not required to make a substitution for a food allergy unless it meets the definition of disability.  Please contact your child’s school for more information. 

If you have other questions or need additional assistance, please call Central Kitchen at 712-279-6862 or contact us by email at