Free and Reduced Meals

Unless a school provides meals to all students at no charge, schools must permit households 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 Meals Free/Reduced Application for School Year 2020-2021

Below, you will find the 2020-2021 School Meals Letters, Applications, and Notices. 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.

Tools and Information for Approving Officials:


Applications and Related Templates for the School Meals Programs:


Applications and Related Templates for the Special Milk Program:


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 offer melas 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)

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

Household Income Form for 2020-2021

Spanish Household Income Form for 2020-2021

Nepali Household Income Form for 2020-2021


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, 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 conduct a second review of applications. 

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.

Contact Us

Vermont Agency of Education
Secretary Daniel M. French
1 National Life Drive, Davis 5
Montpelier, VT 05620-2501

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Phone: (802) 828-1130 | Fax: (802) 828-6430
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