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Public Announcement

Near the beginning of each school year, the public must be notified that free and reduced price meals or free milk (if participating in the Special Milk Program) are available. This notice must include the eligibility criteria for free and reduced price meals or free milk.

The public announcement must be provided to the local news media, the unemployment office, and to any major employers who are contemplating large layoffs in the attendance area of the school. SFAs must keep a record on file for three years plus the current year identifying where the public release was sent.

The prototype public announcement that contains the required information that must be used by SFAs is included in the attachments tab.

*Note- the public announcement must contain both the free and reduced price income eligibility scales. The public announcement may not be sent directly to families and may not be posted on the school website.

In addition to the required notification at the beginning of the school year, SFAs are strongly encouraged to share information about the availability of school meals in routine contacts throughout the school year.

Parent Letter

At the beginning of school, a parent letter must be distributed to the households of children attending the school. This letter informs families of the Child Nutrition Programs and that free or reduced price meals or free milk may be available to children. An application form and instructions must be included with the parent letter.

The parent letter and application must be sent to households of all school children before the beginning of the school year or as early as possible in the school year so that eligibility determinations may be made and free and reduced price benefits provided as soon as possible.  SFAs should send out the letter no earlier than four calendar weeks prior to the first day of school.  Normally this would be around August 1 in New York State for schools beginning in September.  Letters cannot be sent home at the end of the school year (May/June) for the next year.

The letters may be distributed by the postal service, e-mailed to the parent or guardian, or included in an information packet provided to students.

The prototype parent letter that contains the required information and should be used by SFAs is included in the attachments tab.

If the SFA uses a computer or web-based system to process applications, the letter must inform the household how to access the system to apply for benefits.  It must also explain how the household can obtain a paper application.

Households enrolling new students in an SFA after the start of the school year must be provided an information letter, application, and materials when they enroll, and the SFA must determine eligibility promptly.

*Note- the parent letter must only contain the reduced price income eligibility scale. Parent letters incorrectly containing both the free and reduced price income eligibility scales (excluding Special Milk, which requires only the free eligibility scale), only the free income eligibility scale, or no income eligibility scale jeopardize free and reduced reimbursement to your SFA.

Additional Outreach Requirements

SFAs must ensure that communication with applicants, participants, members of the public, and companions with disabilities are as effective as communications with people without disabilities through the provision of auxiliary aids and services, such as alternative formats, taped text, audio recordings, Brailed materials, large print and sign language interpreters [28 CFR 35.160].

SFAs also must take reasonable steps to ensure meaningful access to their programs and activities by persons with Limited English Proficiency.

Once a school becomes aware of a language need, the school is responsible for ensuring the individual’s application and other household materials (letter, instructions, notices, and verification materials) are available in an understandable language. Simply offering the most common non-English language is not sufficient. SFAs may use the translated application materials available through FNS to ensure households comprised of SFA individuals have access to free and reduced price application materials in a language they can understand.

Additionally, in order to participate in the School Meal Programs, program operators must comply with the USDA regulation Non Discrimination on the Basis of Handicap in Programs or Activities Receiving Federal Financial Assistance [7 CFR 15b]. This includes ensuring children with disabilities have an equal opportunity to participate in and benefit from the NSLP and SBP. For more detailed guidance about accommodating disabilities, please see issued SP 26-2017: Accommodating Disabilities in the School Meal Programs: Guidance and Questions and Answers (Q&As), .

Last updated
June 8, 2020

USDA Nondiscrimination Statement

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)     email:

This institution is an equal opportunity provider.


Click here for Nondiscrimination Statement translations.

Los demás programas de asistencia nutricional del FNS, las agencias estatales y locales, y sus beneficiarios secundarios, deben publicar el siguiente Aviso de No Discriminación:

De conformidad con la Ley Federal de Derechos Civiles y los reglamentos y políticas de derechos civiles del Departamento de Agricultura de los EE. UU. (USDA, por sus siglas en ingles), se prohíbe que el USDA, sus agencias, oficinas, empleados e instituciones que participan o administran programas del USDA discriminen sobre la base de raza, color, nacionalidad, sexo, discapacidad, edad, o en represalia o venganza por actividades previas de derechos civiles en algún programa o actividad realizados o financiados por el USDA.

Las personas con discapacidades que necesiten medios alternativos para la comunicación de la información del programa (por ejemplo, sistema Braille, letras grandes, cintas de audio, lenguaje de seas americano, etc.), deben ponerse en contacto con la agencia (estatal o local) en la que solicitaron los beneficios. Las personas sordas, con dificultades de audición o discapacidades del habla pueden comunicarse con el USDA por medio del Federal Relay Service [Servicio Federal de Retransmisión] al (800) 877-8339. Además, la información del programa se puede proporcionar en otros idiomas.

Para presentar una denuncia de discriminación, complete el Formulario de Denuncia de Discriminación del Programa del USDA, (AD-3027) que está disponible en linea en: y en cualquier oficina del USDA, o bien escriba una carta dirigida al USDA e incluya en la carta toda la información solicitada en el formulario. Para solicitar una copia del formulario de denuncia, llame al (866) 632-9992. Haga llegar su formulario lleno o carta al USDA por:

(1)     correo: 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; o

(3)     correo electró

Esta institución es un proveedor que ofrece igualdad de oportunidades.