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
The school Year 2018 - 2019 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.
Tools and Information for Approving Officials:
- Income Eligibility Guidelines 2019-2020
- Homeless Liaison Contact List
- Direct Certification Status Form
- Independent Review Memo and List 2018-2019
- Webinar on Processing Free and Reduced Applications
- Benefits of Applying
- Reimbursement Rates 2018 - 2019
Applications and Related Templates for the National School Lunch Program:
- Meal Application for 2019 - 2020
- Meal Notice to Households and Instructions
- Spanish Meal Application for 2019-2020
- Spanish Meal Notice to Households and Instructions
- Nepali Meal Application for 2019-2020
- Nepali Meal Notice to Households and Instructions
- Additional Prototype Applications and Household Letters in Languages Other Than English
- Notification of Pre-Approval for School Meals Template
- Reminder Regarding Expiration of Previous Year Eligibility Benefits Template
- Notification of Approval or Denial for School Meals Template
Applications and Related Templates for the Special Milk Program:
- Milk Application for 2019 - 2020
- Milk Notice to Households
- Notification of Pre-Approval for Special Milk Program Template
- Template Notification of Approval or Denial
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
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 Rosie Krueger, 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.
- 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 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.