Families’ Completion of Free/Reduced Meal Application Critical to Federal Funding; Deadline is Jan. 31

table with food

DELAND – Fewer Volusia County Schools families have completed the Free and Reduced Meal Application this year, and that could negatively impact federal funding for public schools with a high poverty ranking.

To ensure those schools continue to receive federal Title I funding, it is important for families to fill out the Free and Reduced Meal Application no later than Monday, Jan. 31. Even if those families are not sure they qualify to access free/reduced-price meals, they should complete an application.

It’s easy to apply online and takes only a few minutes, and the application is available in English or Spanish. The application is at: https://www.vcsedu.org/schoolwaycafe/free-and-reduced-meal-applications. (If you don’t have access to a computer, all schools will have a computer available for you to fill out the application.)

The Florida Department of Education, through which the federal funding flows, will determine the Poverty Ranking of all public schools based on applications completed by the Jan. 31 deadline. The Poverty Ranking will determine which schools qualify for Title I funding for next school year.

Currently there are 55 Title I schools in Volusia County.

Title I is designed to ensure that all children have a fair, equal, and significant opportunity to obtain an education of the highest quality and reach, at a minimum, proficiency on challenging state achievement standards and state assessments.

“Many of our families don’t have the financial resources to provide the same educational materials, preschool opportunities, tutoring, and extracurricular learning experiences as other families,” said Leticia Roman, VCS Director of Federal Programs and Grants Development Services. “In addition, Title I schools often have less community resources and support afforded to them.”

Federal Title I funding helps fill those gaps by supplementing VCS’ regular operating budget at Title I schools. The Title I school-wide program is designed to upgrade the entire educational program in a Title I school in order to improve the achievement of the lowest-achieving students.

Title I allocations can be used for additional textbooks and technology and for after-school programs, tutoring and Saturday learning camps. Intervention teachers are funded through Title I, and schools can use their allocations to provide workshops to help parents become a stronger partner in their child’s education.