Federal programs provide free and reduced-price lunches for millions of students, and many states offer additional support to serve even more kids.
For parents wondering whether their children are eligible for free or reduced-price meals at school, the best way to find out is to check with the school. Schools that participate in federal meal programs are required to reach out to notify families about the availability of programs. Some resources for families are also available on the FNS website.
Many students can receive free meals based simply on the school they attend. Just over the last decade, more and more students have become eligible through what’s called the Community Eligibility Provision (CEP), which enables many schools and districts to offer free lunch to all students without processing individual applications.
In other schools that participate in the NSLP, federal guidelines set the standard regarding which students are eligible. There are three ways students can qualify.