Student Meal Applications

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 are not required to but can complete an Application for Educational Benefits using case number(s) instead of household income information:

  • Supplemental Nutrition 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.

Free and Reduced-price Calculator (ICAVES Web)
This web based tool assists school food authorities in determining whether free and reduced-price applications based on income meet eligibility criteria. Income guidelines are updated annually.

  • Resident Income Policy - 8/27/18
    Form for documenting School Nutrition Programs meal benefits for children at a residential child care institution (RCCI).
  • Expiring Application Notice - 8/10/18  pdf iconPDF 
    This template notification can be sent to households where prior year meal benefits have been carried over and will expire unless a new application is received by the School Food Authority.
  •  - 8/6/18
    Guidelines to identify eligible Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), Minnesota Family Investment Program (MFIP) and the Food Distribution Program on Indian Reservations (FDPIR) case numbers used to apply for School Nutrition Programs meal benefits.
  •  - 8/6/18
  • Confidentiality Waiver - 8/3/18
    This form allows households to grant permission for a School Food Authority to share free, reduced-price eligibility with programs of their choosing.
  •  - 8/2/18
  • Online Meal Application Systems - 8/2/18
    School Nutrition Programs requirements for schools that have online systems for families to complete electronic Applications for Educational Benefits.
  • 2018-19 Household Income Guidelines - 7/12/18
    These household income guidelines are effective July 1, 2018 - June 30, 2019.
  • Notice of Approval/Denial Letter for School Meal Benefits - 6/27/18
    Used to notify households of approval or denial for free or reduced-price school meals.
  • Applications and Rosters - 6/21/18
    Instructions for maintaining applications and rosters.
  • 2018-19 Application for Educational Benefits - 5/30/18  pdf iconPDF 
    Household letter, instructions and Application for Educational Benefits.
  • Minnesota Health Care Programs Notification (flyer - English) - 5/22/18
    School districts can use this flyer to notify families about free or low-cost health insurance that is available through Minnesota Health Care Programs or MinnesotaCare.
  • Procedures for Approval/Denial of Application for Educational Benefits - 8/3/17
    For current school year (SY 18-19) use.
  • Requirements for Annual Distribution of the Application for Educational Benefits Packet - 7/11/17
    Contents and timeline for the required annual application packet; use of packet for outreach about school breakfast and/or Minnesota health care programs; exempt schools; public schools that distribute an "alternative" application.
  • Disclosure Agreement - 6/1/17
    This form must be completed for staff outside of the School Food Authority that have access to confidential free, reduced-price student eligibility information.

Translated Documents