2016-2017 School Year Started. Should Your Kids Get Free and Reduced Price Lunch?

School started!  Over 100,000 public schools and nonprofit private schools offer free breakfasts, lunches, and sometimes even dinners to more than 31 million children! But over 1/3 of the families that are eligible for free and reduced price meals don't take advantage of the programs.

How do you qualify for free and reduced price meals and milk?   If you already get food assistance or cash benefits, you should qualify automatically.  Otherwise, check your income on the chart below.   If your income is within the guidelines, contact your school for a form to fill out. Your child's school may send a form home or you may have to go to the school office to get the form. 

Photo Credit: Tim Lauer. Used under a Creative Commons license.

Photo Credit: Tim Lauer. Used under a Creative Commons license.

Only one application is required per household, and you can sign up at any time during the year. So if someone stops working in November and your income drops, you can apply then.  [Ann Arbor Public Schools parents--the application is now online here. Ypsilanti Community Schools parents--the entire district is qualified for free breakfast and lunch, so no application is needed.] 

2016-2017 School Year Income limits for Free and Reduced Lunch 

2016-2017 School Year Income limits for Free and Reduced Lunch 

In some schools, the free/reduced price lunch enrollment will help you access additional benefits. For instance, in the Ann Arbor and Saline school districts, middle school and high school athletes can have "pay to play" athletic fees waived if they show they are enrolled in the free/reduced price lunch program.

Also, note! Most children who are eligible for free and reduced price lunch are also eligible for either Medicaid or the MIChild Childrens' Health Insurance Program. If you need help with that, call the Washtenaw Health Plan at (734) 544-3030 or get more information here.

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Get 'Em While It's Hot Out! Immunizations are Free and Essential

It's Hot! It's August! It's...National Immunization Awareness Month! 

Plus--school is about to start, and kids in certain grades need to have their immunizations up to date! In fact, in some cases adults need boosters or new vaccines as well.

Huuuuuuge Benefits

Immunizations (also known as vaccines, or "shots") pay big dividends:

  • They protect you and your children from diseases that in years past injured and killed many people;
  • They protect other people--vulnerable people like babies, senior citizens, and people whose immune systems are weak--from getting sick. 

Vaccines Are Free

Under the Affordable Care Act, required vaccinations are part of preventive care--and generally, whether you have Medicaid, a Marketplace plan, or employer coverage--they will be covered 100%.

For uninsured children, the Washtenaw County Public Health immunization program has a Vaccines for Children program; and there are discounts for uninsured adults as well. (But wait a minute--if you are uninsured, come visit the Washtenaw Health Plan or another assister agency for help getting covered!)

Vaccine Waivers

New state law in Michigan (2015) tightens up the requirements for families who want to opt out of some or all immunizations. As Washtenaw County Public Health notes, 

If a child is not up-to-date on her or his vaccinations, a waiver is required for the child to enroll in: a licensed childcare; preschool or Head Start;  kindergarten; seventh grade; or a new school district. Under the new rules parents or guardians must participate in a science-based educational session with their local public health department. In Washtenaw County, waiver appointments can be scheduled by calling Washtenaw County Public Health at 734-544-6700.

Learn More

Background information on vaccines can be found here:




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