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:
- Income Eligibility Guidelines 2020-2021
- Homeless Liaison Contact List
- Direct Certification Status Form
- Direct Certification Status Form for Independent School
- School and LEA-Wide Benefits of High Free and Reduced Rates
- Reimbursement Rates 2020 - 2021
- Memo on P-EBT Benefits - Instructions for School Meals Determining Officials
Applications and Related Templates for the School Meals Programs:
- Meal Application for 2020 - 2021
- Meal Notice to Households and Instructions for 2020-2021
- Spanish Meal Application for 2020 - 2021
- Spanish Meal Notice to Households and Instructions for 2020-2021
- Nepali Meal Application for 2020 - 2021
- Nepali Meal Notice to Households and Instructions for 2020-2021
- 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 2020-2021
- Milk Notice to Households
- Notification of Pre-Approval for Special Milk Program Template
- Template Notification of Approval or Denial
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.
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
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.
- Verification Process Training Webinar
- Verification Process Training PowerPoint
- Error-Prone Income Eligibility Guidelines
- 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 (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. This information is reported by the schools.
- 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 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.