FAQ for Free & Reduced MealsQ: Does Valley Tech offer an ONLINE Free & Reduced Lunch Application?A: YES. We encourage everyone to complete the ONLINE application for Free and Reduced price lunches. The process is secure, fast, environmentally friendly (no paper) and available anytime. The application process takes 5-10 minutes to complete and results are available within 24 to 48 hours. You DO NOT need to complete and submit a paper application.If you receive a NOTICE OF DIRECT CERTIFICATION for free meals, DO NOT complete the application. However, let the school know if any children in your household who are attending Valley Tech are not listed on the Notice of Direct Certification letter you received.
Q: What is Direct Certification?A: A process that allows Massachusetts school districts the capability to securely upload student data through the State’s Virtual Gateway in order to cross-match and verify families currently receiving benefits from one or more assistance programs throughout the Commonwealth. If the submitted data is a match, the district can directly certify your child(ren), and you will not be required to complete an application. Direct Certification is required to be performed by Valley Tech at least three times during the school year. The first data upload is expected to be completed as soon as possible.
Q: If I do not receive a Direct Certification Letter by the first day of school, should I apply using the ONLINE application?A: YES. Completing the ONLINE application reduces errors and will not allow an application to be submitted until all required areas have been completed. The sooner your application is processed, the sooner your child can participate in the program.
Q: Can I complete the ONLINE application if I don’t have an active email account?A: YES. The ONLINE application can be accessed from any computer with internet access. Once the ONLINE application is completed, a confirmation number is displayed. You can Check Your Application Status within 24 to 48 hours by entering the confirmation code; your status will be displayed.
Q: Am I required to complete an ONLINE application?A: NO. Parents or guardians wishing to complete a traditional paper application can visit Valley Tech’s Website to download the current school year Free & Reduced Lunch Application or make a request through the business office. If you choose to submit a paper application [and have children in a local school system(s)], you will need to submit a separate application for any students attending Blackstone Valley Vocational RSD.Illegible handwriting and incomplete applications cause delays. Please consider completing the ONLINE application - it reduces the potential for errors. Should you decide to complete a paper application, it should be returned to:Lorna Mangano, Business ManagerBlackstone Valley Vocational RSD65 Pleasant StreetUpton, MA 01568
Q: I have students attending school in my local district AND Valley Tech. Do I need to complete separate applications for each district?A: YES. Because we are a SEPARATE SCHOOL DISTRICT, you will need to submit a separate application for any students attending Valley Tech. For example: If you have two children in your local school district and two children at Valley Tech, you will need one application for your local school district and one application for Valley Tech.
Q: If I qualify, does my child receive breakfast AND lunch?A: YES. Income-based applications and direct certifications qualify for both breakfast and lunch.Q: What is the cost of breakfast and lunch?A: In School Year 2023-2024, all students will receive one free qualifying breakfast and lunch at school. The Commonwealth of Massachusetts has provided money to do this through the State budget. Our meals are so tasty that our students often like to purchase extra items like a second meal, bottled water, or a snack. These items are extras and will be charged to their lunch account. At this time, an extra breakfast costs $1.25, and an extra lunch costs $3.15. The school utilizes NutriKids, a convenient, online pre-payment service allowing for cashless lines during lunch.Your student can purchase extra items, such as snacks and beverages, or a second meal at the following rates:BREAKFAST LUNCH$1.25 – Full Pay $3.15 – Full PayQ: Who is eligible for free meals?A: In School Year 2023-2024, all students will receive one free qualifying breakfast and lunch at school. The Commonwealth of Massachusetts has provided money to do this through the State budget. However, all school districts must continue to collect Free and Reduced School Meal Applications to determine student eligibility. Students who are eligible for Free or Reduced School Meals may also qualify for additional benefits through other programs, such as Federal Communications Commissioner (FCC) broadband discounts, Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits, and waived athletic fees. All children in households receiving benefits from MA SNAP, MA TAFDC, or the Food Distribution Program on Indian Reservations, can get free meals regardless of your income. Also, your children can get free meals if your household’s gross income is within the free limits on the Federal Income Eligibility Guidelines (see Income Eligibility Guidelines).
Q: What are the income eligibility guidelines for the current school year?A: See the Federal Eligibility Income Chart shown below (effective July 1, 2023, through June 30, 2024):
Free Meals (130%)
Twice per Month
Every Two Weeks
Each Addt'l Family Member Add
Reduced Meals (185%)
Twice per Month
Every Two Weeks
Each Addt'l Family Member Add
Q: Can foster children get free meals?A: Yes. Foster children that are under the legal responsibility of a foster care agency or court, are eligible for free meals.
Q: Can homeless, runaway, and migrant children get free meals?A: Yes. Children who meet the definition of homeless, runaway, or migrant are eligible for free meals. If you believe children in your household meet these descriptions and haven’t been told your children will get free meals, please call 508-529-7758 and ask to speak with Valley Tech's McKinney-Vento Coordinator.
Q: My child’s application was approved last year. Do I need to fill out another application?A: Yes. Your child’s application is only good for one school year and up to 30 days of this school year. You must send in a new application unless the school has informed you that your child is eligible for the new school year (e.g. Direct Certification).
Q: I receive WIC. Does my child(ren) qualify for free meals?A: Children in households participating in WIC may be eligible for free or reduced price meals. Please complete an application if you have not been Direct Certified by Valley Tech through the Virtual Gateway.
Q: Will the information on the submitted application be checked?A: Yes. You may be required to submit written proof.
Q: If I don’t qualify now, may I apply later?A: Yes, you may apply at any time during the school year. For example, children with a parent or guardian who becomes unemployed may become eligible for free and reduced price meals if the household income meets the income eligibility guidelines.
Q: What if I disagree with the school’s decision about my application?A: You should talk to a school official. You also may ask for a hearing by calling or writing to:Anthony Steele, Assistant Superintendent-Principal508-529-7758 x301665 Pleasant StreetUpton, MA 01568
Q: May I apply if someone in my household is NOT a U.S. citizen?A: YES. You or your child(ren) do not have to be U.S. citizens to qualify for free or reduced price meals.
Q: Who should I include as members of my household?A: You must include all people living in your household, related or not (such as grandparents, other relatives, or friends) who share income and expenses. You must include yourself and all children living with you. If you live with other people who are economically independent (for example, people who you do not support, who do not share income with you or your children, and who pay a pro-rated share of expenses), do not include them.
Q: What if my income is not always the same?A: List the amount that you normally receive. For example, if you normally make $1,000 each month, but you missed some work last month and only made $900, put down that you made $1,000 per month. If you normally get overtime, include it, but do not include it if you only work overtime sometimes. If you have lost a job or had your hours or wages reduced, use your current income.
Q: We are in the military. Do we include our housing allowance as income?A: If you get an off-base housing allowance, it must be included as income. However, if your housing is part of the Military Housing Privatization Initiative, do not include your housing allowance as income.
Q: My spouse is deployed to a combat zone. Is his/her combat pay counted as income?A: No, if the combat pay is received in addition to his/her basic pay because of his/her deployment and it wasn’t received before s/he was deployed; combat pay is not counted as income.
Q: My family needs more help. Are there other programs we might apply for?A: To find out how to apply for MA SNAP or other assistance benefits, contact your local assistance office or call the MA SNAP Hotline 1-866-950-3663.If you have other questions or need help, call: 508-529-7758 x3028.Si necesita ayuda, por favor llame al teléfono: 508-529-7758 x3028.Si vousvoudriezd’aide, contactez nous au numéro: 508-529-7758 x3028.