Learn About Programs > School Meal Program

School Meal Program

 

 

  1. What is the School Meal Program?
  2. Who can get free or reduced-price meals from the School Meal Program?
  3. Are there any asset limits for the School Meal Program?
  4. If I already get Food Support, MFIP or FDPIR, or if I have a foster child, do I have to apply to get help?
  5. How do I get an application?
  6. When can I apply?
  7. What is the application like?
  8. What else do I have to do to apply?
  9. What happens after I turn in the application?
  10. How long can I be on the School Meal Program until I have to apply again?
  11. Do I have to be a U.S. citizen to get help from the School Meal Program?
  12. I am an immigrant. If I get help from the School Meal Program, am I a public charge?
  13. Can I get help paying for breakfast also?
  14. Does it matter how long I have lived in Minnesota to get help?
  15. Do all schools have the School Meal Program?
  16. Will other kids know that my child is getting a free or reduced-price meal?
What is the School Meal Program?
It is a program that pays for all or part of the cost of breakfast and lunch for children at school. By offering healthy and nutritious meals, the program also helps children to learn and grow.

The program is administered by the Minnesota Department of Education - Food and Nutrition Services.
Who can get free or reduced-price meals from the School Meal Program?
Children attending public and private schools grades K-12. All foster children can get free meals. If your family is getting help from Food Support (stamps), MFIP, or FDPIR (Food Distribution Program on Indian Reservations), you can get free meals. Otherwise, if you are not on these programs, your family has to have an income below the limits to get help. Some families can get free meals and others can get a reduced (lower) price on their meals. The most you will pay for a reduced-price lunch is 40 cents.
Are there any asset limits for the School Meal Program?
No. This program does not look at your assets to see if you can get help. (Assets are money in a checking or savings account or other things of value that you or your family own.)
If I already get Food Support, MFIP or FDPIR, or if I have a foster child, do I have to apply to get help?
Maybe. If you are on these programs, you may get a letter in August that says you are already going to get free meals. If you don’t get a letter, or if the letter doesn’t cover all of your children, you will have to apply to get help. If you get Food Support, MFIP or FDPIR, when you fill out the School Meal application you only have to write in the names of your children and your case number(s) and sign your name. If you are applying for a foster child, you only have to write the child’s name and the amount of foster care money for personal use, and sign your name. You have to fill out a seperate application for each foster child.
How do I get an application?
You can pick one up in the office at your child’s school. It may be mailed to your household during the summer with other school papers. It is called the “Application for Educational Benefits.” The application is available in English, Spanish, Hmong, Somali, Khmer (Cambodian), Laotian, Vietnamese, Arabic and Russian. You can also get an application on this website by clicking here.
When can I apply?
You can apply at any time during the school year. Applications are not accepted during the summer. If you intend to enroll your child in the program, you must wait until the school year begins to submit your application. Even if your child was enrolled before, you must fill out a new application each school year.

If your income goes down, or your household size goes up, you may be able to get help — even if you didn’t qualify for help before.
What is the application like?
It is one page long. It will ask for the names of all the children and adults in your household and how much money they make each month. The adult who fills out the application also has to write his or her Social Security Number. If you don’t have a Social Security Number, you can say that and your family can still get help.
What else do I have to do to apply?
Just turn in your application in to the school office. A small group of people will be asked to show proof of their income. The school may also check to make sure the information you gave them is correct.
What happens after I turn in the application?
The school will send you a letter to let you know if you qualify for help. You will find out in about two weeks.
How long can I be on the School Meal Program until I have to apply again?
Once you are on the program, your child can get free or reduced-price meals all school year. Some schools also cover 30 days into the next school year. You will have to apply again every year. If your income or household size changes during the year, you do not have to tell the school.
Do I have to be a U.S. citizen to get help from the School Meal Program?
No. Even if you, your children, or other people living with you are not U.S. citizens, you can still get help.
I am an immigrant. If I get help from the School Meal Program, am I a public charge?
No. You are not a public charge if you use the School Meal Program. Schools cannot tell USCIS (INS) if you get help.
Can I get help paying for breakfast also?
Some schools also have a breakfast program. If your child gets free or reduced-priced lunches, he or she will also get free breakfast if your school offers breakfast. You do not have to apply again for breakfast.
Does it matter how long I have lived in Minnesota to get help?
No.
Do all schools have the School Meal Program?
No, but most schools do.
Will other kids know that my child is getting a free or reduced-price meal?
No. The school has to make sure no one can tell who is getting a free or reduced-price meal.