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Disaster Relief and Emergencies



Disasters and emergencies can happen at any time. They may disrupt food service operations and cause an increased risk of foodborne illness. Having an emergency preparedness plan in place can assist in keeping employees, students, and food safe. 

There may be instances when students are eligible to receive free meals as the result of a natural disaster or other emergency. 

The information below can assist schools in providing meals during or after an emergency, and in being prepared for and responding to an emergency.

Free Meal Eligibility

The McKinney-Vento Homeless Education Assistance Act covers students who become homeless due to natural disasters such as hurricanes and flooding. Students from families who have had to temporarily leave their homes and relocate to another area due to natural disasters may be eligible to receive free school meals. Each public school district's homeless liaison will determine if a student qualifies for free school meals under the McKinney-Vento Act.

Please contact your district's homeless liaison or one of the DPI Homeless Coordinators listed below for additional information regarding the McKinney-Vento Act.

  • Kristine Nadolski, State Education for Homeless Children and Youth Coordinator, (608) 267-7338

Additional guidance regarding homeless students can be found on the Free and Reduced Meal Eligibility webpage. The guidance permits school officials to accept documentation that students are homeless from the local educational agency's (LEA) homeless liaison or official of a homeless shelter. Documentation to substantiate free meal eligibility must consist of the student's name or list of names, effective date(s), and the signature of the LEA's homeless liaison or official of a homeless shelter. This documentation is acceptable in lieu of a school meal application.



Institute of Child Nutrition

Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection (DATCP)