Child Nutrition

Free & Reduced Price Meal Program

Eligibility Information

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.

School Meal Free/Reduced Application

School Year 2015 - 2016 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.


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 1, and results are reported in the online secure Child Nutrition Programs system no later than December 15. The below is used to calculate the number of applications to be Verified by the School Food Authority. For more information about the Verification process, see page 65 in the USDA Eligibility Manual, or contact Nancy Lewis (802) 479-1207 or

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. The Independent Review of Meal Applications List of SFAs list below outlines the process and lists School Food Authorities that are required to conduct an Independent Review of Applications for the current school year. Links are also provided to a training webinar and the tool used to report, no later than December 15, the results of the Independent Review of Applications.

Certification and Benefit Issuance Letters
These are letters that may be used by schools who are reviewed by Child Nutrition Programs and who must complete corrective action by contacting households to notify them of eligibility changes resulting from errors found during an Administrative or Program Review. These sample letters will save lots of time, will facilitate the corrective action process and may save fiscal action penalties for incorrect meal claiming errors by quicker corrective action response periods.


Free to Reduced, Approval Error




Free to No Benefits, Approval Error


Reduced to Free, Approval Error




Reduced to No Benefits, Approval Error


Denied to Free or Reduced, Approval Error




No Application on File, Status Change




Zero income




Incomplete Application




Decreased Benefits, Miscategorized


Increased Benefits, Miscategorized


Student Continuing to Receive Benefits After No Response to Verification


Free and Reduced Eligibility Reports
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.

Page Last Updated on October 30, 2015