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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)

Free and Reduced-Price Outreach Toolkit

Use the free and reduced-price school meals outreach toolkit to market the importance of applying and promoting the availability of free school meals. Sponsors can access print-ready and web materials, customizable flyers, social media templates and talking points.

Direct Certification (DC)

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.

2020 Free and Reduced-Price Public Release

The free and reduced-price school meals public release was published on behalf of all sponsors operating NSLP on Wednesday, July 1, 2020. The public release provides families with the newest qualifying income guidelines, information on eligible school sites, and guidance on how to complete a free and reduced-price meal application. Sponsors interested in providing their families with specific district information can find editable public release templates in both English and Spanish.



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.


For more information or if an alternative version of a document is needed, please contact free& or call 303-503-2353.