Unless a school provides meals to all students at no charge, schools must permit families to apply for free and reduced price meals. Schools must designate an Approving Officer to review and approve applications. Schools must also conduct verification of a sample of approved applications each year.
Meal Charge Policies
Beginning July 1, 2017, USDA requires all school food authorities to have a written and clearly communicated meal charge policy or procedure, which must be distributed to households at the start of each school year. The policy/procedure must clearly articulate how students will be charged for meals, as well as how SFAs will offer alternate meals, set limits on meal charges, manage debt on student accounts, and disallow meal charges or alternate meals when a student’s account has insufficient funds.
School Meal Free/Reduced Application
School Year 2017 - 2018 forms are available for printing. The pages are designed to be printed on 8.5 x 11 paper; the meal and milk applications must be printed on white paper. Some pages may be printed front to back. You will need to identify benefits that your school offers such as breakfast and after school snacks. The [bold bracketed fields] indicate where you need to insert your school specific data and information.
Required information that must be provided to households includes the letter to households, meal or milk application, the Notice of Direct Certification, and the Notice to Households of Approval/Denial of Benefits.
- Meal Application for 2017 - 2018
- Milk Application for 2017 - 2018
- Reimbursement Rates 2017 - 2018
- Income Eligibility Guidelines 2017-2018
- Ameliorative Action List 2017 - 2018
- Independent Review Memo and List 2017-2018
- Vermont Appendix: Application Approval and Verification Process 2017-2018
- USDA Eligibility Manual
- Applications in Languages other than English
- Residential Child Care Institution, Free and Reduced Meal Income and Enrollment Documentation
- Homeless Liaison Contact List
Should you experience any difficulty in accessing these documents, please don’t hesitate to contact us. We will work to provide information to you in an alternative format.
Verification is confirmation of eligibility, conducted by sampling 3% of applications. Coordinated by one person representing the School Food Authority or SU, Verification is started October 2 and results are reported in the online secure Child Nutrition Programs system no later than December 15. For more information about the Verification process, see page 96 of the USDA Eligibility Manual, or email Laurie Colgan, Child Nutrition Programs, or call (802) 479-1187.
- Webinar on the Verification of Free & Reduced Price Meals
- Paper Copy of Verification Form (Use this form to gather information for the on-line report.)
- Verification Calculator (Use this tool to determine how many applications must be verified)
- Verification Log (Use this worksheet to track progress on applications chosen for verification.)
The agency publishes an annual report showing the number and percent of students eligible for free and reduced-price school meals for every school that participates in the National School Lunch Program.
Independent Review of Applications
Beginning in School Year 2014-2015, School Food Authorities that demonstrate high levels of, or a high risk of administrative error associated with certification and benefit issuance are required to conduct a second review of applications.