Skip to main content
U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government

Guidance on Determining Categorical Eligibility for Free Lunches and Breakfasts for Youth Served under the Runaway and Homeless Youth Act

EO Guidance Document #
Resource type
Policy Memos
Resource Materials
PDF Icon Policy Memo (76.96 KB)
DATE: September 17, 2004
SUBJECT: Guidance on Determining Categorical Eligibility for Free Lunches and Breakfasts for Youth Served under the Runaway and Homeless Youth Act
TO: Special Nutrition Programs
All Regions
State Agencies
Child Nutrition Programs
All States

As described in our Reauthorization Implementation Memo SP 4, Categorical Eligibility for Free Lunches and Breakfasts of Runaway, Homeless, and Migrant Youth, issued July 19, 2004, runaway youth served through grant programs established under the Runaway and Homeless Youth Act (RHYA, PL 108-96) are now categorically eligible for free meals in the National School Lunch and School Breakfast Programs. This memorandum is a follow up to the July 19, 2004, memorandum and provides background information on the operation of programs under the RHYA and eligibility guidance for schools and school districts.

Background on the Grant Programs Established under the RHYA

The Family and Youth Services Bureau (FYSB) is part of the Administration on Children, Youth and Families (ACF); of the Department of Health and Human Services. FYSB supports local communities in providing services and opportunities to young people, particularly runaway and homeless youth. FYSB does so by awarding funding that enables community agencies to offer services to young people and their families and to test new approaches to helping youth. FYSB promotes and supports youth through its three grant programs: Basic Center Program, Transitional Living Program and the Street Outreach Program. The agencies receiving grants under these three programs are referred to as either FYSB grantees, or Runaway and Homeless Youth (RHY) service providers.

FYSB works through ten ACF regional offices located throughout the country; each region has a regional Youth Specialist to serve the states, territories, tribes and other grantees in their geographical area. The Regional Youth Specialists are given broad flexibility in guiding the programmatic and financial management of FYSB programs.

In order to better advance FYSB’s directive on coordination with McKinney-Vento school district liaison, they are developing an informational memorandum for their grantees that offers suggestions on how to build stronger relationships with the liaisons and offers available resources. We will share their memorandum as soon as it becomes available. The 2003 Reauthorization of the Runaway and Homeless Youth Program directed FYSB to coordinate with school district liaisons under the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act to assure that RHY are provided information about the educational services available to them and to ensure they receive support services guaranteed under the law.

Documenting Eligibility

The systems for coordination of information about RHY can vary from state to state and even across districts depending on the relationship between the McKinney-Vento school district liaison and the RHY service provider, and the size of the RHY caseload. In many cases, the McKinney-Vento school district liaison is already working with youth receiving services under the RHY grant programs. In these cases, school districts will be notified of a child’s status as a runaway through the existing liaison channels. In some cases, schools may receive information on a youth’s participation in a RHY Program directly from the RHY service provider. Documentation to substantiate free meal eligibility must consist of the youth’s name, or a list of names, effective date(s), and the signature of the McKinney-Vento school district liaison or the RHY service provider(s). This documentation is acceptable in lieu of a free and reduced price meal application.

It is important that schools/school districts become familiar with their local RHY service providers and their McKinney-Vento school district liaison in order to facilitate the service of free school meals for youth in these programs. Should you have questions regarding the operation of FYSB, please contact your regional Youth Specialist.

Child Nutrition Division

Page updated: February 24, 2023

The contents of this guidance document do not have the force and effect of law and are not meant to bind the public in any way. This document is intended only to provide clarity to the public regarding existing requirements under the law or agency policies.