Free or Reduced Meals

VegetablesTo apply for free or reduced-price school meals, fill out an application online or download and print an Application for Educational Benefits in English or Spanish

Applications for the new school year are available August 1. Families must complete a new form each year. Please ensure you are filling out the current year's form for District 197 or it will not be accepted.

The Application for Educational Benefits is also used to determine funding for other important educational programs in the District, so please be sure to complete one each year.

Paper applications can also be obtained at each main school office or at the District Office, 1897 Delaware Avenue, Mendota Heights.

All students eligible for Free or Reduced Price Meals are eligible to receive both breakfast and lunch at no charge.


Who can get free or reduced-price meals?
Children in households participating in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), Minnesota Family Investment Program (MFIP) or Food Distribution Program on Indian Reservations (FDPIR), and foster, homeless, migrant and runaway children can get free school meals without reporting household income. Also, children can get free meals if their household income is within the maximum income shown for the household size on the instructions.

I get WIC or Medical Assistance. Can my children get free school meals?
Children in households participating in WIC may be eligible for free meals, but will not qualify automatically. Please fill out an application.  

May I apply if someone in my household is not a U.S. citizen?
Yes. You or your children do not have to be U.S. citizens for your children to qualify for free or reduced-price school meals.

What if my income is not always the same?
List the amount that you normally get or the average of your last three paychecks. If you normally get overtime, include it, but not if you get it only sometimes.

Will the information I give be checked?
Yes, and we may also ask you to send written proof.

How will the information be kept?
Information you provide on the form, and your child’s approval status for school meal benefits, will be protected as private data. For more information see the back page of the Application for Educational Benefits.

How long does it take for the Child Nutrition Office to process an application?
Applications are processed within 10 business days and families are notified if they are approved or not approved. The Child Nutrition Office encourages families to complete the online application (versus paper) for the shortest processing time.

Note: Families who qualified for free meals in District 197 during the last school year will retain their benefits until mid-October of the following year. Parents and guardians should still complete a new form as soon as possible after August 1, but don't need to be concerned if they don't hear from the Child Nutrition Office before the start of the year.

If I don't qualify now, may I apply later?
Yes. Please complete an application at any time if your income goes down, your household size goes up, or you start getting SNAP, MFIP or FDPIR benefits.

Other things to note about the application:

  • Please provide the information requested about children's racial identity and ethnicity, which helps to make sure we are fully serving our community. This information is not required for approval of school meal benefits, however.
  • The form asks for the last four digits of the Social Security Number of the person who is signing the application, but it is not required. If the signer does not have a Social Security Number, simply check the box on the form that says they do not have one.
  • Forms must be for the current school year and for the school district in which the child is enrolled. Old forms and forms from other districts will not be accepted in District 197.

If you have other questions or need help, please call the Child Nutrition Department at 651-403-7320.