MDE Announces 2015-16 Income Guidelines for Free and Reduced Price School Meals, Child and Adult Care Food Program

August 21, 2015

LANSING – New household income guidelines used to determine eligibility for free and reduced price school meals are available for 2015-16, the Michigan Department of Education (MDE) announced today.

Established by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), the new income guidelines are effective through June 30, 2016, and apply to free and reduced price meals and free milk available through the National School Lunch, School Breakfast, Special Milk, and Child and Adult Care Food Programs.

“These federal programs provide nutritionally-balanced, low-cost or free meals that are so vitally important to the health, well-being and education of our children,” State Superintendent Brian Whiston said.

Those automatically qualifying for free meals include: adults, children, or foster children who are recipients of various programs such as Michigan’s Family Independence Program, Food Assistance Program, or Food Distribution Program on Indian Reservations; and Head Start, an At-Risk after-school center, or an emergency shelter enrollees.

Households with incomes less than or equal to the following eligibility guidelines qualify for free or reduced price meals or free milk

Scale for Free Meals or Free Milk


Scale for Reduced Price Meals

Total Family Size































































For each additional family member add:








Families should contact their school, school district, child care center, or family day care home sponsor to find out whether it participates in these programs.

Schools, child care centers, adult day care centers, and family day care home sponsors provide application forms for free or reduced price meals.  Only one application is required per household, and applications are accepted year-round.  Most participating centers and all participating family child care homes provide meals to all enrolled participants with no separate charges.

An application to a school, child care center, adult day care center, or family day care home sponsor can be approved if it contains complete documentation of household income or documentation of current participation in Michigan’s Family Independence Program, Food Assistance Program, or Food Distribution Program on Indian Reservations.  Information supplied on an application for free or reduced price meals may be verified at any time.  An appeal procedure is available for households with denied applications.

A household may qualify for free or reduced price meals due to a temporary loss of income, such as a period of unemployment.

If a doctor has determined that a child or adult has a disability preventing the participant from eating regular school or center meals, the building will make any doctor-prescribed substitution at no charge. A doctor’s statement, including prescribed diet and/or substitution, must be submitted to the food service department of the school or child or adult care facility.

The USDA prohibits discrimination against its customers, employees, and applicants for employment on the bases of race, color, national origin, age, disability, sex, gender identity, religion, reprisal, and where applicable, political beliefs, marital status, familial or parental status, sexual orientation, or all or part of an individual’s income is derived from any public assistance program, or protected genetic information in employment or in any program or activity conducted or funded by the USDA.  (Not all prohibited bases apply to all programs and/or employment activities.) 

If you wish to file a Civil Rights program complaint of discrimination, complete the USDA Program Discrimination Complaint Form, found online at, or at any USDA office, or call (866) 632-9992 to request the form.  You may also write a letter containing all of the information requested in the form.  Mail your completed complaint form or letter to U.S. Department of Agriculture, Director, Office of Adjudication, 1400 Independence Avenue, S.W., Washington, D.C. 20250-9410. You also may fax it to (202) 690-7442 or email to

Individuals who are deaf, hard of hearing or have speech disabilities may contact the USDA through the Federal Relay Service at (800) 877-8339; or (800) 845-6136 (Spanish).  USDA is an equal opportunity provider and employer.