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Benefit Details
School Lunch and Breakfast Programs
Managing Agency U.S. Department of Agriculture

Program Description

School lunch and school breakfast programs make nutritionally balanced meals available to children as part of their regular school day. Over 95,000 schools offer low-cost or free lunches, and more than 78,000 schools offer low-cost or free breakfasts. Some schools offer snacks to children in afterschool programs. All school meals must meet the Dietary Guidelines for Americans and USDA's nutrition standards.

General Program Requirements

Children qualify to receive free or low-cost meals while they attend school (high school and under) if their families' household incomes meet the current income eligibility guidelines. Children who participate in certain other programs, such as Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) or Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, and children who are migrant, runaway, or homeless are automatically eligible for free meals. You can find out what the maximum income limits for eligibility are at

Your Next Steps

The following information will lead you to the next steps to apply for this benefit.

Application Process

Contact your child's school to find out what meals are served, and how to apply for free or reduced-price meals. Your state education agency can also give you information about school meals. The Food and Nutrition Service provides program and state contact information at these web pages:


Program Contact Information

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