Unless a school is operating a non-pricing school meals program (CEP or non-base year Provision 2 for breakfast and lunch), schools must encourage households to apply for free and reduced-price meals. Schools must designate a Determining Official to review and approve applications. Schools must also conduct verification of a sample of approved applications each year.
Important Dates in School Year 2023-2024
Benefit Issuance for School Year 2023-2024
Below, you will find the 2023-2024 School Meals Letters, Applications and Notifications. 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 into the templates.
Required information that must be provided to households includes the Application Cover Letter and Instructions, Application, the Notice of Direct Certification Pre-Approval for School Meals, and the Benefit Notification Letter.
If additional translations of any documents are needed, please contact Marc Grimes at email@example.com.
Act 64, Vermont’s permanent universal meals law, requires that public schools offer universal meals and provides state funding if they do so through the Community Eligibility Provision (CEP) or Provision 2. Act 64 also provides state funding for meals served to publicly tuitioned students at State approved independent schools if those schools choose to offer universal meals through CEP or Provision 2. State funding will cover the difference between the “Paid” and “Free” reimbursement rates for meals in the “Paid” category.
For this reason, template materials are broken up this year for either "Schools Operating Provision 2 in a Base Year," or "Independent Schools operating pricing programs." Schools that are operating the Community Eligibility Provision (CEP) or are in non-base year Provision 2 for breakfast and lunch should use the Household Income Form.
Tools and Information for Approving Officials
- Eligibility Manual for School Meals
- Income Eligibility Guidelines 2023-2024
- Direct Certification Status Form for Independent Schools
- Benefits of Having Higher Free and Reduced Percentages
- Reimbursement Rates 2023-2024
- Homeless Liaison Contact List
- English Application for Free and Reduced Price School Meals
- Nepali Application for Free and Reduced Price School Meals
- Russian Application for Free and Reduced Price School Meals
- Spanish Application for Free and Reduced Price School Meals
- Ukrainian Application for Free and Reduced Price School Meals
- Additional Prototype Applications and Household Letters in Languages Other Than English
For all Public School Food Authorities (SFAs) and Independent Schools operating Provision 2 in a base year:
- Non-Pricing Meal Application Cover Letter and Instructions 2023-2024
- Translations of the Non-Pricing Meal Application Cover Letter and FAQS 2023-2024
- Non-Pricing Notification of Direct Certification Pre-Approval for Free School Meals Template
- Non-Pricing Notification of Direct Certification Pre-Approval for Reduced-Priced School Meal Template
- Non-Pricing Benefit Notification Letter Template
- Non-Pricing Reminder of School Meal Eligibility Expiration
(Public School Food Authorities (SFAs) and Independent Schools operating CEP, or Provision 2 in a non-base year, should be using the Household Income Form.)
For Independent Schools operating pricing programs:
- Independent School Pricing Program Meal Application Cover Letter and Instructions 2023-24
- Translations of the Pricing Program Meal Application Cover Letter and FAQS 2023-24 (coming soon)
Pricing Program Spanish (International) Meal Application Cover Letter and FAQs 2023-24 (coming soon)
Pricing Program Nepali Meal Application Cover Letter and FAQs 2023-24 (coming soon)
- Independent School Pricing Program Direct Certification Pre-Approval for Free School Meals Template
- Independent School Pricing Program Direct Certification Pre-Approval for Reduced-Price School Meals Template
- Independent School Pricing Program Benefit Notification Letter Template
- Independent School Pricing Program Reminder of School Meal Eligibility Expiration
Applications and Related Templates for the Special Milk Program
- Application for Free School Milk 2023-2024
- Milk Application Cover Letter Template
- Notification of Direct Certification Pre-Approval for Free School Milk
- Benefit Notification Letter Template
The school meals application may only be used when the primary purpose is to obtain information to qualify students to participate in the school meals programs. Schools in the following situations may not use the school meals application to collect family income information, and should instead use the below Household Income Form if they need to obtain family income information for other purposes:
- Schools operating the Community Eligibility Provision (CEP)
- Schools who are operating Provision 2 and are not in a base year
- Schools who are not participating in the National School Lunch Program
School Year 2023-2024
Provision 2 reduces application burdens and simplifies meal counting and claiming procedures. It allows schools to establish claiming percentages and to serve all meals at no charge for a 4-year period. Schools must offer meals to all participating children at no charge for a period of 4 years. During the first year, or base year, the school makes eligibility determinations and takes meal counts by type. During the next 3 years, the school makes no new eligibility determinations and counts only the total number of reimbursable meals served each day. Reimbursement during these years is determined by applying the percentages of free, reduced-price, and paid status meals served during the corresponding month of the base year to the total meal count for the claiming month. The base year is included as part of the 4 years. At the end of each 4-year period, the State agency may approve 4-year extensions if the income level of the school’s population remains stable. Schools electing this alternative must pay the difference between Federal reimbursement and the cost of providing all meals at no charge. The money to pay for this difference must be from sources other than Federal funds.
To help with collecting applications, schools can elect to do “delayed implementation” of Provision 2, where they do not start offering meals at no cost until October 1st.
Policy Statement for Free and Reduced Meals - Provision 2 Amendment (due by October 15th of applicable school year)
Verification is confirmation of eligibility, conducted by sampling 3% of applications. Coordinated by one person representing the School Food Authority or SU, Verification is based on the number of approved applications on file as of October 1, 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, email Rosie Krueger, State Director of Child Nutrition Programs, or call (802) 828-1589.
- Verification Process Training PowerPoint
- Verification Process Documents:
- 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 Worksheet (Use this worksheet to track progress on applications chosen for verification.)
- Error-Prone Income Eligibility Guidelines for School Year 2023-24
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. This information is reported by the schools.
- 2022-2023 Free and Reduced Eligibility Report
- 2021-2022 Free and Reduced Eligibility Report
- 2020-2021 Free and Reduced Eligibility Report
- 2019-2020 Free and Reduced Eligibility Report
- 2018-2019 Free and Reduced Eligibility Report
- 2017-2018 Free and Reduced Eligibility Report
- 2016-2017 Free and Reduced Eligibility Report
- 2015-2016 Free and Reduced Eligibility Report
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 attend benefit issuance training, conduct a second review of applications, and complete the Independent Review Report.
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.
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.
- Meal Charge Policies/Procedures Memo
- Meal Charge Policy/Procedure Template
- USDA-FNS Unpaid Meal Charges’ Resources