When Alaskans received their Permanent Fund Dividend checks in the fall of 2008, an estimated 100 students in the Kenai Peninsula Borough School District who received free or reduced meals lost their eligibility.
The 2008 permanent fund payments provided a record boon to residents at $2,069, but it also helped to bump up household incomes.
According to Dean Hamburg, the district's student nutrition services administrator, for some families, that boost to income meant students who formerly received reduced price meals had to pay full price while others who formerly got free meals paid the reduced price.
In speaking with colleagues at other districts around the state, Hamburg said programs saw about a five-percent decrease in the number of students served through the free or reduced meal programs because of the payouts.
As of Jan. 1. however, the 2009 permanent fund payments may be factored into a family's income. And last fall payments were significantly less than in 2008, at $1,305.
Hamburg said families may apply for free or reduced meals, where available, at anytime throughout the year.
"If you have any change in the amount of people in you house or a negative declination in income you can reapply," he said.
Students who come from families whose income is within 130 percent of the poverty guideline qualify for free meals, and those coming from families with incomes within 185 percent of the guideline are eligible for reduced price meals.
Hamburg said reduced price meals are 40 cents for lunch and 30 cents for breakfast, regardless of age.
"Great efforts are made to protect anonymity of those who qualify," Hamburg said. "There's no stigma attached, there's not a separate line."
Hamburg said that within the district, which has an enrollment of more than 9,000 students, 2,300 qualify for free meals and 800 qualify for reduced meals.
Hamburg said parents can pick up applications at their child's school or the district office in the Borough Administration Building in Soldotna.
For more information call Patty Sirois at 714-8832.
Dante Petri can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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