Parents Advised to Apply Annually for National School Lunch Program for Free or Reduced Meals

About 7.1 million children participated nationwide in the NSLP in its first year. Since then, the program has reached millions of children: 1970: 22.4 million children; 1980: 26.6 million children; 1990: 21.1 million children; 2000: 27.3 million children; 2010: 31.8 million children; and 2016: 30.4 million children.

Who Qualifies for Free or Reduced-Price School Lunch:

    • Children may be determined “categorically eligible” for free meals through participation in certain Federal Assistance Programs, such as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or based on their status as a homeless, migrant, runaway, or foster child.
    • Children enrolled in a federally funded Head Start Program, or a comparable State-funded pre-kindergarten program, are also categorically eligible for free meals.
    • Children can also qualify for free or reduced-price school meals based on household income and family size. Children from families with incomes at or below 130 percent of the Federal poverty level are eligible for free meals. Those with incomes between 130 and 185 percent of the Federal poverty level are eligible for reduced price meals. Schools may not charge children more than 40 cents for a reduced-price lunch. To see the current Income Eligibility Guidelines, please visit: https://www.fns.usda. gov/school-meals/income-eligibility-guidelines.


How To Apply:

Visit to fill out your application.  

    • No login or codes required to apply.
    • Apply from anywhere you have internet access, 24 hours/day, 7 days/week throughout the school year.
    • If you receive SNAP or TANF benefits, it is helpful to have your 10-digit case number available when you complete the application.
    • Only enter Date of Birth information for students.
    • Only enter income amounts in whole dollars.  Round all amounts to the nearest dollar and do not enter decimals.
    • Paper copies are available upon request.

Should you have any questions, please contact Brianna Fannon with GCS School Nutrition at 423-787-8012. For more information and updates please visit