The National School Lunch Program is a federally assisted meal program operating in over 100,000 public and non‐profit private schools and residential child care institutions. It provided nutritionally balanced, low‐cost or free lunches to more than 31 million children each school day in 2012. In 1998, Congress expanded the National School Lunch Program to include reimbursement for snacks served to children in afterschool educational and enrichment programs to include children through 18 years of age.
Schools send school meal applications home at the beginning of each school year. However, you may apply for school meals any time during the school year by submitting an application directly to your school or district. You may ask for an application any time during the school year. If you’re earning at or below current Income Eligibility Guidelines, you are encouraged to contact your school or district to fill out a school meal application. Applications are reviewed by local school or district officials before granting free or reduced price benefits. If you receive Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits, all of your children who attend school automatically qualify for free school meals. Participation in other Federal assistance programs, including Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) also provides automatic eligibility. Please contact your school to determine if you need to fill out an application.
If you are eligible for unemployment compensation, you might also be eligible for free or reduced price school meals. With the cooperation of the Department of Labor's Employment and Training Administration, we are reaching out to vulnerable households. State Workforce Agency Administratorshave been asked to let households seeking unemployment benefits about the availability of free and reduced price school meals. Please contact your school or district for more information
Qualification for the National School Lunch Program may qualify a student for other assistance such as reduced costs for home Internet Access, reduced costs for advanced placement course fees, and scholarships.