Breakfast and Lunch Program Applications

California schools send school breakfast program applications and free school lunch applications home at the start of each school year. These applications also explain how to apply for summer food service programs. You may, however, apply for free school meals at any time during the school year by sending in an application with the required details directly to your California school or district. Parents can request free meal applications from their children’s school offices whenever they decide on filing for this type of food assistance. Continue below to find out about applying for free school meals  in California below.

California School Breakfast Program Application Overview

To begin a school breakfast program application, you should request a form from your child’s school or your local education authority – if you did not already receive one at the beginning of the year. You may apply for the school breakfast program if your household income is at or below 130 percent of the Federal Poverty Level (FPL), you are a resident of California and you have a child – or children – who attend school from kindergarten through 12th grade. To create a school breakfast program application, you will need to answer all the questions on the application form. You will have to provide information about the names and ages of each of your children and the name and address of the school(s) they attend. Download our free guide to review the types of information needed on the application for school meals.

When you apply for the school breakfast program, you will also be asked if you or anyone in your household receives any other benefits from programs like CalFresh (SNAP), CalWORKs (TANF) or the Food Distribution Program on Indian Reservations (FDPIR). Your child/children will automatically be eligible for free school meals if you are in receipt of any of these benefits. The school breakfast program application will also request that you report all countable income for all the members of your household. This not only includes income from employment, but also from any spousal or child support, other benefits, pensions and retirement funds. You will then mail the completed form to your local school district.

How to Apply For Summer Food Service Programs in California

To apply for the Summer Food Service Program (SFSP), you will need to contact the California Department of Education; contact information can be located via the state website. You will be able to file a national school lunch program application if your children are eligible for free school meals and your child/children are 18 years old or younger, or are over 18 and participate in educational programs for persons who are physically or mentally disabled. If you qualify, then look for a SFSP site in your local community where activity programs are offered for children. If there are no meal service sites in your area, you can try to mobilize one by speaking to your school officials.

What happens after filing a free school meal application?

The decision process for the California school breakfast program and the national school lunch program is the same. Once your application for free school meals has been reviewed by the local school or district officials, you will be sent a letter of notification. If your application for free school meals has been approved, then your letter will explain if your children are eligible for free meals or reduced-price meals. If you are approved for reduced-price meals, the letter will tell you how much you will have to pay toward your child’s breakfasts, lunches and after-school snacks. If your application has been denied, you will be given the reason(s) why. If you receive a national school lunch program denial, and you disagree with the decision, then you may request an NSLP denial appeal process, which includes a fair hearing. You can reapply for free school meals at any time during the school year if your financial circumstances change. Your letter will also tell you if your child or children may be eligible to participate in any other benefits programs and if so, which ones.

How to Appeal a NSLP Denial

If you have submitted an application for free school meals and you have received a school breakfast application denial, then your letter of notification will tell you why your application has been denied. Your school breakfast program denial may have resulted from the following:

  • Your total household income exceeds the maximum amount for free or low-cost meals
  • Your application was not fully completed, and some more information is still required
  • An entirely different reason, which will be explained in the NSLP denial appeal process on your letter

If you agree with thenational school lunch application denial and the school breakfast application denial, then you do not need to do anything further. Following the SBP denial appeal process, you may reapply for free school meals at any time during the school year, if desired. If you are not currently eligible for the CA school breakfast program or the CA national school lunch program, then you may be eligible in the future if your household income drops, the size of your family changes, a member of your household becomes unemployed or you or a member of your family becomes eligible for CalWORKs, CalFresh or the Food Distribution Program on Indian Reservations (FDPIR) benefits. You can submit another application at that time. Learn more about California meal programs and how to appeal a SBP denial by downloading our guide.


What Kind of Assistance Does the Department of Social Services Offer?

The California Department of Social Services (CDSS) provides various types of assistance benefits to residents of the state. Through the CDSS, individuals and families can obtain temporary cash assistance, food assistance and more. Furthermore, applicants who are eligible for the benefits of one CDSS program will often qualify for the assistance benefits of another. Find out everything you need to know about the services and benefits provided by the Department of Social Services by downloading our helpful CDSS guide.


Who Can Benefit From California’s Department of Social Services?

To receive benefits from the CDSS, you and your family will need to meet certain eligibility criteria. The criteria used to determine an applicant’s eligibility typically include income, age, resources and citizenship, among other factors. Find out if you qualify for California DSS assistance benefits here.