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:
- The National School Lunch Program
- The School Breakfast Program
- The Special Milk Program, which provides milk for students in schools that do not participate in a federal school meal program
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 USDAFoodsComplaints@usda.gov, or call 1-800-446-6991 between 6:00 AM and 5:00 PM ET, Monday - Friday.
LAST UPDATED: April 6, 2023
Do you have a question?
Ask a real person any government-related question for free. They will get you the answer or let you know where to find it.