Home Education Restoration of requirements for submitting applications for free and reduced meals

Restoration of requirements for submitting applications for free and reduced meals


Families who need help paying for school meals must apply for the first time from 2020.

The state Department of Education announced Tuesday that the federal Child Nutrition Act reinstates application requirements for free and reduced-price school meals. Congress has suspended the application requirement for families during the pandemic.

There is no application deadline, but SDE encourages families to do so by the start of the 2022-23 school year to confirm eligibility.

The renewal requires some low-income students below the poverty line to pay a reduced price for school meals. Others may qualify for free meals. For the past two academic years, all students have been covered at full cost of meals without the need to apply.

Families participating in federal assistance programs such as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program or Temporary Assistance for Idaho Families are automatically eligible. Individuals participating in food distribution programs on Indian reservations are also automatically eligible, but may need to apply to participate.

Families can also qualify for free or reduced-price meals based on income guidelines only, and do not need to enroll in an assistance program to access meals.

Most Idaho schools participate in the National School Lunch Program. To complete an application, parents must contact the district or charter school where the programs are offered. Go here for a list of Idaho counties and links to their websites for their contact information.

Only one application per family is required, even for children who attend more than one school in the district. The right is preserved throughout the academic year. The application must be resubmitted at the beginning of each academic year.

“We do not want families who have received free meals for the past two years to be left out of this change in federal policy,” said state Superintendent Sherry Ibarra. “If you need help with school meals, contact the district office. We want all Idaho children to be fed, healthy and ready to learn and succeed.”

About Devin Bodkin

EdNews assistant editor and reporter Devin Bodkin is a former high school English teacher who specializes in stories about charter schools and educating students living in poverty. He lives and works in Eastern Idaho. Follow Devin on Twitter @dsbodkin. He can be contacted by email at [email protected].

Read more stories by Devin Bodkin »

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