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School meals and food programs for children

Your child may qualify for free or reduced-price meals at their school or childcare center. They can get food assistance throughout the school year and during summer break.

During the school year, your child can get free or reduced-price meals at school through:

Find out if your child is eligible for school meal programs

Your children may qualify for free meals or milk during the school year if:

  • You meet household income guidelines
  • You receive SNAP (food stamps), TANF (welfare), WIC, or the Food Distribution Program on Indian Reservations (FDPIR)
  • They are foster children under the legal responsibility of a foster care agency or court
  • They are enrolled in Head Start

Check with your child's school for specific eligibility requirements for your state.

How to apply for school meal programs

Ask your child's school for a meal program application. You can do this at the beginning of the school year or at any time if circumstances change.

The Summer Food Service Program

The Summer Food Service Program offers one or more free meals during summer break. All children and teens 18 or younger qualify. There is no application process and no income limit. Search for a summer meals site near you.

Find help with or file a complaint about a school meal program

Contact your local school or school district for more information.

You can also email, or call 1-800-446-6991 between 6:00 AM and 5:00 PM ET, Monday - Friday.

LAST UPDATED: June 18, 2024


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