Arkansas Department of Education Division of Elementary and Secondary Education Benefits of Collecting Free and Reduced-Price Meal Applications

Memo Information

Memo Number
Memo Date
Memo Type
Child Nutrition
Regulatory Authority
7CFR 245.6(1)
Response Required
Federal Programs; Superintendents; Principals; Technology Coordinator; Test Coordinator; General Business Manager; Teachers

Primary Contact Information

Memo Reference

No references available.

Memo Text

When families and schools partner to complete Free and Reduced-Price Meal Applications, both benefit from the following:

  •  Free and reduced-price meals for students;
  •  Access to ACT testing at no cost to the family;
  •  Access to discounted rates for internet services and other supports;
  •  Specific educational program funding, such as eRate and Title 1; and
  •  Potential state Categorical Funding.


Qualifying students may also have access to endorsed concurrent credit courses at no cost to the family, per requirements of Act 1118 of 2017.


Federal policies govern the free and reduced-price meal application process. Federal Regulation 7CFR 245.6(1) states, “The local educational agency cannot require the household to submit an application for each child attending its schools.”


Allowable practices in the collection of applications can include, but are not limited to, the following:

  •  Sharing with parents and guardians the benefits for both families and schools;
  •  Providing community outreach to encourage households to submit applications for meal benefits;
  •  Providing the community information regarding free and reduced-price meals by posting applications in parent centers, post offices, grocery stores, employment offices, county health units, and other community buildings; and
  •  Utilizing technology (call-outs, emails, apps, websites, etc.) to remind families that meal benefits are available to all students at any time during the school year.


Schools should continue to rely on their district official(s) to accurately determine the eligibility of students for free and reduced-price meals. These individuals are trained regarding the appropriate methods and requirements for approval and denial of all applications. The determining official will communicate with households if additional information or clarifications are needed prior to making the determination of the benefit, and information will be kept confidential. 


For more information regarding federal policies and guidelines, please contact the Child Nutrition Unit at (501) 324-9502.


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