August is almost upon us, which means all of the preparation that comes with the back-to-school season! This year, that includes applying for free and reduced-price school meals.

For the past two years, families did not need to apply as all students could receive free meals. That is changing this year. Families will need to fill out new applications to determine eligibility in order to be approved for the meal benefits. 

How to Apply

Information and applications for free and reduced-price school meals are available through your local school and/or school district office. You will only need one application for all children in the household. The information used for the application is confidential and is only used to determine eligibility. Immigration, migrant, citizenship or refugee status is not required to be provided during the application process.

If your application was approved last year, you still need to fill out a new application for this school year. 


Your school will use the income eligibility guidelines to determine if your kid will receive free or reduced-price meals. However, other criteria can automatically qualify your kids:

Eligibility through SNAP and TANF: 

Children in households receiving benefits from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) or Temporary Assistance for Needy Family (TANF/Colorado Works – Basic Cash Assistance or State Diversion) are are automatically eligible for free meals. You still have to contact your school to apply for the school meals.

If you receive Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC), you may be eligible
for free or reduced-price meals. Please contact your school district to determine eligibility.

Eligibility for Foster Children: 

Any foster child in the household under the legal responsibility of a foster care agency or court is eligible for free school meals regardless of income.

Eligibility through Head Start, Homeless, Migrant, or Runaway Programs: 

If you believe children in your household meet these criteria, contact your school for assistance in receiving meal benefits.

Income Eligibility Guidelines: 

The household size and income criteria that school officials will use to determine eligibility is as follows:

Household Size Free Guidelines (Yearly Income) Reduced-Price Guidelines (Yearly Income)
1 $17,667 $25,142
2 $23,803 $33,874
3 $29,939 $42,606
4 $36,075 $51,338
5 $42,211 $60,070
6 $48,347 $68,802
7 $54,483 $77,534
8 $60,619 $86,266
For each additional family member, add: $6,136 $8,732


If your household income is at or below these guidelines, your children will be eligible for free or reduced-price school meals.

DID YOU KNOW? Schools receive their federal school meal funds based on the number of students who qualify for meal benefits. That means that if families don’t apply for these benefits, schools won’t receive enough funds to cover meal prices.

Additional Resources and Information Based on School District


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