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School Meal Eligibility

School Meal Eligibility is determined at the district level by households completing a free or reduced-price application; households can also be automatically eligible for free school meals through direct certification. Qualifying students as eligible for free or low-cost school meals helps to increase access to healthy meals, which supports their health and academic performance. Find more specific information regarding school meal eligibility below.

Pandemic Electronic Benefits Transfer (P-EBT)

The P-EBT program was created as part of the U.S. government's response to the COVID-19 epidemic that began in 2020. P-EBT benefits are intended for school-age children who would have received a free or reduced-price school meal during School Years 2019-20, 2020-21 and 2021-22.  To find out if your student may be eligible to receive P-EBT benefits and for common questions, visit the Colorado Department of Human Services P-EBT webpage.

Households can contact the P-EBT support center for general benefit questions or case specific information. The Support Center is open Monday – Friday 8am – 7:30 pm and Saturday 8am – 12:00 pm​. Call 1-800-536-5298, text 720-741-0550 or email

To apply for free or reduced-price school meals, contact your school or district directly. 

P-EBT Data Collection Resources

For more information on the P-EBT Data Pipeline upload requirement, visit the P-EBT Data Collection webpage or email  

P-EBT Outreach Materials:

P-EBT Training

Direct Certification

Direct Certification uses approved assistance program data to automatically approve eligible students for free school meals. Colorado uses an automated online system to directly certify households that participate in Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), and the Migrant Education Program.


District Liaisons For:


Legislation requires each district to have a child welfare liaison (CWEL), a McKinney Vento/Homeless liaison and a regional Migrant liaison. Liaisons are responsible for identifying and documenting children who qualify for the listed assistance programs. Children identified in these programs are automatically eligible for free school meals. 

Free and Reduced-Price (F&R) Application Guidance

The free and reduced-price application determines school meal eligibility based on reported information including household size and income or participation in approved assistance programs.



Income Verification Guidance

Verification is the process of confirming free or reduced-price meal eligibility based on income and/or assistance program information provided on applications.



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