How Do I Get Free Lunch For My Preschooler? It's A Fairly Uncomplicated Process

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You know that feeling right after you eat a good, filling meal and you're pretty sure you can conquer the world? Or at least make it through four more hours at work? Yeah, well, for a lot of people out there, that feeling is non-existent. And for some kids, the meals they get at school are the only full meals they'll get in a day, which, in turn, help them achieve more success while at school. But with so much school policy being changed these days, you may be wondering how to get free lunch for your preschooler. Well, if you're in Mississippi, it's about to get a whole lot more simple.

As Mississippi Public Broadcasting reports, "The Mississippi Department of Education is automatically offering free lunch to students whose families receive SNAP benefits — food stamps." And that's some seriously great news.

The importance of a nutritious, filling lunch for young children cannot be overstated. As a study done by the Brookings Institute shows, "in years when a school contracts with a healthy lunch company, students at the school score better on end-of-year academic tests." But that's not all: "The test score increases are about 40 percent larger for students who qualify for reduced-price or free school lunches," the study continued. "These students are also the ones who are most likely to eat the school lunches."

So, yeah. Free school lunches are kind of a big deal. And while Mississippi is working to make sure that they're accessible, the question of whether or not parents can get them for their youngsters still remains at large in many parts of the United States.

Back in May, it was announced that the Trump administration was "easing school lunch regulations spearheaded by the Obama administration," ABC News reported. And as unfortunate as that is, many will still depend on free lunches at school, despite the lowering of nutrition standards for children. So, how does the free lunch program work? And who can be on it?

So if you're not in Mississippi, it's important to know that all public schools, which includes public preschools, in the United States should send out application forms at the start of each school year for families to fill out if they need free or reduced lunches. To get these benefits, you must meet certain requirements, such as resources, including bank accounts, and proof of income. According to the United States Department of Agriculture:

If you receive Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits, all of your children who attend school automatically qualify for free school meals. Participation in other Federal assistance programs, including Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) also provides automatic eligibility. Please contact your school to determine if you need to fill out an application.

So, if your child is in a public preschool or elementary school, make sure you get an application from the office in order to determine your family's eligibility for free or reduced lunches. And as Scott Clements, who works for the Office of Child Nutrition at the Mississippi Department of Education, told Mississippi Public Broadcasting: "Hungry children cannot learn in the classroom. If they're hungry then they're not concentrating on what the teachers are trying to teach them."

And of course, if you have any questions about getting free or reduced lunches for your children at school, check out the USDA's guidelines for more information. Or contact your child's school with any questions.