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Office of P-20 Education Policy
Child Nutrition Program Administration
89 Washington Avenue, Room 375 EBA, Albany, NY 12234
Phone: (518) 473-8781 Fax: (518) 473-0018

School Food Service Directors/Managers
Frances N. O'Donnell, Coordinator
Tuesday, November 1, 2005
Submission of Free and Reduced Price Applications By All Households

With increasing frequency, school officials are requiring the submission of a free and reduced price meal application from all households with children enrolled in their school regardless of whether the household wishes to make application for free or reduced price meal benefits.

    The National School Lunch Program, which includes snacks, the School Breakfast Program and the Special Milk Program, require that school food authorities inform households of the availability of the program(s) and how a household may apply for free and reduced prices benefits (7 CFR245.5).  However, neither the National School Lunch Act, the Child Nutrition Act, or the regulations and guidance material governing these programs establish a requirement that would mandate submission of an application for free or reduced price benefits.  While school officials must make families aware of the availability of free and reduced price meals and may even request that households apply, school officials may not requirethat a household submit an application for free or reduced price meal benefits.  A school or school food authority wishing to require income information from all households with enrolled children must secure that income information through means other than the household's application for free or reduced price school meal benefits.

    This policy takes effect immediately and does not require retroactive implementation.

USDA Nondiscrimination Statement

In accordance with federal civil rights law and U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) civil rights regulations and policies, this institution is prohibited from discriminating on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex (including gender identity and sexual orientation), disability, age, or reprisal or retaliation for prior civil rights activity.

Program information may be made available in languages other than English. Persons with disabilities who require alternative means of communication to obtain program information (e.g., Braille, large print, audiotape, American Sign Language), should contact the responsible state or local agency that administers the program or USDA’s TARGET Center at (202) 720-2600 (voice and TTY) or contact USDA through the Federal Relay Service at (800) 877-8339.

To file a program discrimination complaint, a Complainant should complete a Form AD-3027, USDA Program Discrimination Complaint Form which can be obtained online at:, from any USDA office, by calling (866) 632-9992, or by writing a letter addressed to USDA. The letter must contain the complainant’s name, address, telephone number, and a written description of the alleged discriminatory action in sufficient detail to inform the Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights (ASCR) about the nature and date of an alleged civil rights violation. The completed AD-3027 form or letter must be submitted to USDA by:

  1. mail:
    U.S. Department of Agriculture
    Office of the Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights
    1400 Independence Avenue, SW
    Washington, D.C. 20250-9410; or
  2. fax:
    (833) 256-1665 or (202) 690-7442; or
  3. email:

This institution is an equal opportunity provider.

Click here for Nondiscrimination Statement translations.