Grocery aid not for home-schoolers, most private-schoolers

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CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) — The large majority of the approximately 22,000 students in West Virginia who are either home-schooled or attend private schools that don’t use the National School Lunch Program aren’t eligible for grocery relief payments, the Charleston Gazette Mail reports.

The roughly $313 per child will go to all students who already qualified for a free or reduced-price lunch, and families should receive the money by the end of June without having to apply.

The state Department of Education previously said those who did not already qualify could apply online to become eligible, but it has clarified to the paper that the state's home-school students cannot qualify for the relief. As of 2016, that was about 11,000 children, Education spokeswoman Christy Day said, although a change in state law makes more current numbers hard to determine.

And private-school students can only qualify if their school participates in the federal lunch program. That covers only about 3,150 of the state’s 11,350 private schoolers, according to numbers from the state Department of Education.

Day said the application at schoolcafe.com is for families that didn't qualify for free or reduced price meals prior to COVID-19, but believe they would qualify now because their financial situation has changed.

There are still ways for ineligible families with hungry children to get help. They include rapidresponsewv.org or the WV Food ER 2020 group on Facebook. Families can also search for free summer meal locations at https://www.fns.usda.gov/meals4kids.


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