BALTIMORE – The Maryland State Department of Education (MSDE) has announced updated Income Eligibility Guidelines (IEGs) for free and reduced-price school meals. The guidelines are set by the federal government and adopted by MSDE. The IEGs are used to determine eligibility for free or reduced-price meals in child nutrition programs for the period of July 1, 2021 through June 30, 2022.

Household size and income is the most common way to determine eligibility. For example, a child from a family of four is eligible for free school meals if the household’s current annual income is below $34,450. If the family’s annual income is between $34,450 and $49,025, the child is eligible for reduced-price meals.

Meal Benefit Applications will be available at the beginning of the school year. Parents and guardians should submit complete applications to the school; schools cannot approve incomplete applications. United States citizenship is not required to be eligible for free or reduced-price meals. Schools will inform households whether children qualify for free or reduced-price meals.

Parents and guardians may contact school officials concerning disagreement with the school’s decision or appeal the decision and request a hearing with the school district’s administrators.

Children enrolled in Head Start, Even Start, certified as homeless, migrant, runaway, foster, or children living in households that receive Food Supplement Program (FSP) or Temporary Cash Assistance (TCA) benefits are eligible for free meals and may not need to fill out an application.

Some FSP and TCA households will receive a letter from the school informing them those children in the household are eligible for free meals. FSP and TCA households that do not receive a letter by the beginning of the school year should fill out an application. Other children who may be eligible for free or reduced-price meals include, children in households participating in the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC). Parents and guardians of these children should complete an application.

Parents and guardians may reapply at any time during the school year and are encouraged to do so if the household size increases, parents and guardians become unemployed, income decreases, or the household qualifies for FSP or TCA.

The School Meals programs are administered in Maryland by the MSDE, and must meet nutrition standards set by the USDA. Visit for additional information regarding the Child Nutrition Programs operating in Maryland.

Individuals who want more information concerning schools or facilities that participate in one of the Child Nutrition Programs should contact the Office of School and Community Nutrition Programs at the Maryland State Department of Education at 410-767-0219.

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