Some families in the Provo School District are finding out that there may be such a thing as a free lunch.

Thanks to the National School Lunch/School Breakfast and Commodity School programs, families who cannot afford to pay the full price of their children's school meals may be able to get free or reduced-price meals.Letters and application forms for the programs were sent to district patrons last week to explain the program and eligibility requirements.

Applications may be submitted anytime during the year, but Vaughn Hawkes, coordinator of purchasing and food services, said the district is encouraging people to submit forms as soon as possible so everything is in place for the student when school starts in a month.

Eligibility for the programs is based on the household size and income. For example, a family of four with a yearly income of $15,145 or less would be eligible for free meals. A family of four with a yearly income of $21,553 or less would be eligible for reduced-price meals.

Hawkes said 20 to 30 percent of the students in the district are eligible for the programs.

Families who receive Aid to Families with Dependent Children or food stamps can complete an abbreviated application based on that eligibility. In certain cases, foster children who are legal wards of the court are also eligible for these benefits.

With a modified processing system, Hawkes said families will only have to fill out one application listing all children. All applications will be processed at the district office and will be computer-accessible by every school.

In the past, a family had to apply for the program at each school their children attended. The policy may be reviewed by any interested person at each school and the district office.

The information provided on the application by the household is confidential and will be used only for purposes of determining eligibility and verifying data.