Dear friends,

This year has been one of tremendous disruption, especially to our school-aged students — that includes making sure our children are getting the food they need.

To ensure that school nutrition programs were available to any family in need, the U.S. Department of Agriculture issued universal waivers, allowing all school districts to be reimbursed for meals provided to any student’s family, regardless of income. These waivers have enabled schools and volunteer organizations to deliver millions of nutritious meals to students in every corner of our state. Because families were not required to verify their income to receive meals this year, some districts are having difficulty registering eligible families under the federal Free and Reduced Lunch Program (F&R).

F&R is one of the keystone metrics for both state and federal education aid targeted by need. It is used to determine districts with a higher concentration of low-income families, which triggers higher levels of financial assistance.

If you are eligible but have not yet signed up for the Free and Reduced Lunch Program, I encourage you to do so. Just download a Meal Application from your school’s website or request one from your district’s food service director. Only one application per household is needed and it takes less than 10 minutes to complete. All information will remain private and confidential.

By signing your children up for F&R, you will help ensure that our schools receive the proper level of state and federal funding next year. Thank you.

Sincerely,

SEN. RUTH WARD

386 Route 123 South

Stoddard

(The writer represents Senate District 8 in the N.H. Senate.)