CEP Family Income Survey FAQs

I have received benefits or discounts from qualifying for free or reduced-price meals in the past, can I still get them with CEP?

Yes! When you fill out the Family Income Survey, if you meet the income thresholds, you can get a letter to provide to community programs that request it for discounts.

Can I put my child's nickname on the application?

No. Please write your child's full name that was used to register him/her in school.

My children attend different schools within Spokane Public Schools. How many applications do I need to complete?

One application listing all students living in your household is all that is required, no matter which schools they attend.

I have a foster child. How do I apply for free or reduced-price meals for him/her?

A foster child is someone whose care and placement is the responsibility of a state or local welfare agency, or who is placed with a caretaker household by the court. This definition applies only to foster children who are formally placed by the state welfare agency or court. This may include foster children placed with relatives, provided the placement is made by the state or local foster care system or courts, but does not apply to informal arrangements, such as caretaker arrangements or to permanent guardianship placements, when such arrangements exist outside of or as a result of state or court based systems. The state must retain legal custody of the child (whether placed by a welfare agency or a court) in order for a foster child to be considered categorically eligible for free meals.

A foster child is categorically eligible for free meals. If they are the only student you are applying for on the application, mark the X on the line in Part 1 where you included the student’s name and then complete Part 4 (Optional) and Part 5.

A foster child may be included as a member of the foster family if the foster family chooses to also apply for benefits for other children. Including children in foster care as household members may help other children in the household qualify for benefits as an income based application is also based on household size. The only income you would report for the Foster Child on an application with other children is their Personal Use Income. If you are applying for benefits for other household members and a foster child on the same application, mark the X on the line in Part 1 where you included the student’s name and then complete Part 1 for the other student’s, Part 3, Part 4 (Optional), and Part 5.

If non-foster children in a foster family are not eligible for free or reduced price meal benefits, an eligible foster child will still receive free benefits.

Do I need to include my social security number on the application?

Yes. The last four digits of the signer’s Social Security Number is required on all applications that list income. If you are receiving Basic Food, TANF, or are applying for a foster child, the last four digits of a Social Security Number is not required. If the adult completing the application does not have a Social Security Number, check the box in Section 5 that states “I do not have a Social Security Number.”

Will the information I give be checked?

Yes, we may ask you to send written proof.

If I don't qualify now, may I apply later?

Yes. You may apply at any time during the school year if your household size changes, income goes down, or if you start getting Basic Food, TANF, or other benefits. If you become unemployed, your children may be able to get free or reduced-price meals.

Who should I include as members of my household?

You must include all people living in your household, related or not (such as grandparents, other relatives, or friends). You must include yourself and all children who live with you.

What if my income is not always the same?

List the amount that you normally get. For example, if you normally get $1000 each month, but you missed some work last month and only got $900, put down that you get $1000 per month. If you normally get overtime, include it, but not if you get it only sometimes. You must list any deployed service members names and income that is made available to the household on the application (This person should be included in the total household count in section 3 & 4 of the application).

We are military. Do we include our housing allowance as income?

If your housing is part of the Military Housing Privatization Initiative, do not include your housing allowance as income. All other allowances must be included in your gross income.

How long are my benefits good for?

You will find an expiration date listed on your approval letter that will be mailed to your home. You are no longer required to report changes once you are approved.

When will I be notified about my application?

Nutrition Services will contact you in writing when your application has been processed. Please allow up to 10 working days for Nutrition Services to process the application.