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How to Apply for Free and Reduced-Price School Meals

How to Apply for Free and Reduced-Price School Meals

Did you know that fifty-one percent of American families qualify for free and reduced-price school meals?  It’s true!  Applying for free and reduced-price school meals does not necessarily mean that your family lives in poverty, and it certainly shouldn’t be a source of shame.  

Applying for free and reduced-price school meals is an easy, quick way to provide your child with healthy meals every day.  All you have to do is check your qualifications, request an application, and return the completed form to your child’s school.

Applying for free and reduced-price school meals doesn’t just mean affordable food; it can provide your child all kinds of hidden benefits you may have never considered!  Read on to find out how you can apply today and take advantage of a boost any family could use. 

How to Apply

Applying for free and reduced-price school meals is so easy, many schools allow parents to complete the requirements during registration!  Regardless of whether or not you’re familiar with this sort of form, you’ll easily be able to complete the entire process within a single day.

  1. Check to See if You Qualify

Before starting this process, you should check to see if your family qualifies for this program.

To qualify for reduced-price school meals, your family should fall within 185% of the federal poverty guidelines.  If you fall within 130% of that guideline, your children can enjoy their meals completely free!  

The way that this program is structured, American families don’t necessarily have to be living in poverty to enjoy the benefits of nutritious, guaranteed meals.  

This scale uses size to determine how much income a family can have while still qualifying for these benefits.  Under the 2021-2022 guidelines, a family of four can earn over 49,000 dollars and still enjoy this program’s perks!  Use the official chart here to see if your family qualifies. 

If your family uses any of the programs listed below, you automatically qualify for free or reduced-price school meals:

  • Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program
  • Temporary Assistance for Needy Families
  • Unemployment compensation in most states
  1. Request an Application

Most schools either provide this application at registration or send it home at the beginning of every year.  If you didn’t receive yours, however, you should contact the office of your child’s school.  They’ll redirect you to their designated nutrition program, which can give you all the help you need in retrieving the application.

Though every application may be slightly different, most will request specific information about how much the household regularly earns and any other assistance any member of the immediate family receives. 

  1. Return the Completed Form

Once you’ve completed the application, return it either via mail or in person.  Your child should be able to enjoy the benefits of free or reduced-price meals within the week.

If you need assistance completing this form, feel free to reach out to the school for help!  The nutrition program is highly accustomed to answering questions and should provide any additional support you may need.  

The forms are also available in fifty different languages; there should be no barriers to your child’s opportunity to participate in this program!

For more information on ways you can save money during the school year, check out this great article on how you can access free school supplies!

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Students who take advantage of free and reduced-price meals are guaranteed healthy, filling meal options throughout the entire school year!

Benefits of Applying for Free and Reduced Price School Meals

You may have already heard the news: recently, the USDA announced that, because of the Covid-19 pandemic, they’d be offering free meals to all students enrolled in public schools!  All students will enjoy complimentary meals twice a day for the rest of the 2021-2022 school year.

While this fantastic benefit may appear to be an excuse to get out of all that paperwork, in reality, the free and reduced-price school meals program has more to offer your child than food alone. 

Free ACT Waivers

By applying for this program, you open the door to save more money outside of the cafeteria through free ACT waivers.

To see to it that all children are given equal opportunities for success, the ACT offers four free ACT tests to all students currently enrolled in the free and reduced-price lunch program.  

Outside of this program, a single ACT costs sixty dollars.  Through this program, your family can save two hundred-forty dollars per student and ensure that your child has every opportunity available to any of their peers!

Dual Credit Deals

A growing number of high schools around the country are regularly offering dual credit classes right on their campus.  These courses provide both college and high school credit, allowing students to earn college experience right on their home turf, at a deeply reduced rate.

Many universities are willing to lower that rate even more!

Dual credit classes work by having specific colleges sponsor the classes.  While not every college honors this deal, many offer great rates for students who receive free and reduced lunch.  Many schools will even offer these classes completely free!

With these benefits, your son or daughter could finish high school halfway to their associate’s degree, all without spending any significant money.

Great Scholarship Opportunities

Colleges benefit from attracting as diverse a population of students as possible. This means that every college, even Ivy League institutions like Harvard, Yale, and Stanford, offer exceptional opportunities for ambitious students from lower-income families.

The easiest way to find those students is to see who applies for free and reduced-price school meals.

By skipping out on this opportunity, you might shorten the list of scholarships that your child can access. Skipping the step of applying for free and reduced-price school meals is leaving real-life money on the table!

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Applying for free and reduced-price school meals can mean free ACTs, additional scholarships, and much more!

Final Thoughts:

There’s no way around it: the benefits of applying for free and reduced-price lunches are innumerable.  In addition to enjoying regular, healthy meals, your child can qualify for scholarship opportunities and ACT practice that can save them thousands in the long run.

Applying for free and reduced-price lunch is simple, fast, and will provide your child a leg-up in the world, not just today but throughout their college future!

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