• Schools that participate in School Nutrition Programs accept applications for free and reduced-price school meal benefits at any time. Approval is based on comparison of the household’s income to current U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) household income guidelines. Schools send an Application for Educational Benefits form to the households of all enrolled students at the beginning of each school year. A letter accompanies the form and explains school meal benefits and how to apply.

    Households that have already been approved for the following public assistance programs can complete an Application for Educational Benefits using case number(s) instead of household income information:

    • Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program (SNAP)
    • Minnesota Family Investment Program (MFIP)
    • Food Distribution Program on Indian Reservations (FDPIR)

    Children approved for these programs may be “directly certified” for free school meals, based on data supplied to MDE by the Minnesota Department of Human Services. For more information, see Direct Certification.