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Free and Reduced Meals

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

School Meals Programs Timeline of Important Dates 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

Universal Meals

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

Applications and Related Templates for the School Meals Programs

For all Public School Food Authorities (SFAs) and Independent Schools operating Provision 2 in a base year:

​(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:

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)

Applications and Related Templates for the Special Milk Program

Household Income Form for CEP, Provision 2 or Schools Not Participating in NSLP

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

English Household Income Form for 2023-2024

Provision 2

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.

Provision 2 Guidance

Policy Statement for Free and Reduced Meals - Provision 2 Amendment (due by October 15th of applicable school year)

2023-2024 Provision 2 School List


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.

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. This information is reported by the schools.

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.