Applications required for free and reduced school lunches next year

COEUR D’ALENE, Idaho — Families will be required to submit an application for free and reduced-price school meals for the first time since 2020.

This comes after Congress passed the $3 billion Keep Kids Fed Act, which requires low-income students who fall above the poverty line to pay a reduced price for school meals.

“We’re committed to making sure that not a single-family in Idaho struggles to find healthy, balanced meals for their kids this school year,” Superintendent of Public Instruction Sherri Ybarra said. “What’s different in 2022 is that parents once again need to fill out an application to access these meals. I want to make sure all parents know about this change – including those who didn’t have children in school before the pandemic hit.”

Families that participate in federal assistance programs like Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) or Temporary Assistance for Families in Idaho (TAFI) automatically qualify. Families on Food Distribution Programs on Indian Reservations (FDPIR) also qualify for the program, but applications may still be required.

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

Most schools and districts in Idaho participate in the National School Lunch Program. Parents can contact the district their children attend to fill out an application. You can find your district here.

Though there are no due dates to apply for the program, families should apply before the start of the school year to confirm eligibility and enrollment. Families can also apply at any time during the school year. Once deemed eligible, they will remain so for the entire school year. An application must be re-submitted at the beginning of each school year.

“We don’t want families that have received free meals over the past two years to get sidelined by this change in federal policy,” Superintendent Ybarra said. “Please, if you need help with school meals, contact your district office. We want all Idaho kids to be fed, healthy and ready to learn and succeed.”

You can learn more about the National School Lunch Program here.

READ: What’s in your student’s school lunch? Spokane Public Schools works to make meals healthier