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Lunch Rule Proposed

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Washington--The Agriculture Department has proposed regulations that would require states to double-check students' eligibility for free and reduced-price school meals after they have been verified by local districts.

Local school districts currently check a sampling of participants in the child-nutrition programs to ensure that they comply with the federal income-eligibility standards.

To be eligible to receive a free lunch or breakfast, a student's family income must not exceed $13,845 for a family of four.

Under the new regulations, the states would double-check reports from one-third of the local districts and then report the figures to the Agriculture Department's food and nutrition service.

Gene Vincent, a spokesman for the department, said the changes are being proposed to ensure greater accountablity in the child-nutrition programs by collecting consistent national information.

Comments on the proposed regulations are due by Nov. 29.--at

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