National School Lunch Program Application Instructions

To apply for the NSLP and SBP, families need to submit a Household Income Application given by the school. You only need to submit a single application for all the children in your household that go to schools in the same Local Educational Agencies or LEA.

There are two ways to apply for the National School Lunch Program and the School Breakfast Program, depending on what the LEA uses:

  1. Paper Applications: If the Local Educational Agency uses paper-based applications, the instructions and application form will be included with the information letter sent to the families of the children.
  2. Web or Computer Applications: If the Local Educational Agency uses web or computer-based applications, the information letter sent to the households must include instructions on how to gain access to the system to be able to apply for the programs. Additionally, the letter should also clarify how to get a paper application and how to submit it.

Local Educational Agencies are not allowed to call for an application for every child in a family except for those who live in Residential Child Care Institutions (RCCIs) because each child in an RCCI is regarded as a single household.

Those who reside in an RCCI should submit an application for each child or the RRCI may apply for all the children residing there by using an eligibility documentation sheet. This must include the name of the child, the personal income each one receives, date of birth, as well as the date of admission and release. The documentation sheet needs to have the title, contact information, and the signature of an appropriate official. For children who attend in an RCCI but do not live in one are deemed as members of their own family and therefore, they will be determined eligible for the program through direct certification or a household application.

Applications for the NSLP and SBP are normally reviewed in a well-timed approach - eligibility must be determined within ten operating days after the application has been received, including notifying the family of the status, and implementing it. Applications have to be processed right away and the families must also be informed of the result immediately. This way, households will have enough time to make preparations for payment to avoid any meal charges from accumulating.

Eligibility Requirements

Any child in a school that participates in the NSLP and SBP may receive a healthy meal for free or for a reduced cost, depending on the income level of the family. Here's how children may qualify for the benefits of the programs:

  • Children from families whose incomes are at 130% or below of the Federal Poverty Level (FPL) are qualified to receive free meals.
  • Those children whose families have incomes between 130% and 185% are eligible to buy meals at a low price - no more than 40 cents.
  • For children who have families with incomes above 185% of the FPL pay a full price for their meals, although their food are still funded at some level. The school food authorities in your local area establish their own prices for fully-priced meals, but they are required to manage their services as non-profit programs.

The eligibility requirements for the National School Lunch Program and School Breakfast Program are as follows:

  • Must live in Arizona
  • Must be a parent or a primary caretaker who is responsible for a child who goes to school at a high school level or below
  • Must have a certain household income

Citizenship or the immigration status of an individual is not one of the conditions of eligibility to receive benefits. Local Education Agencies are required to apply the same criteria for both U.S. citizens and non-citizens.

The eligibility of a child to receive benefits from the programs is effective from the starting date of eligibility for the present school year up to 30 days of the following school year. Still, this cannot be applied if the preliminary eligibility determination was wrong or if the proof of household eligibility doesn't keep up with the level of benefits which was approved for the family. In such cases, officials need to take action and make proper adjustments in eligibility.