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Frequently Asked Questions

How can I contact the Division of Food and Nutrition Services to discuss the Free and Reduced Price Meals program?

The main phone number for the Division of Food and Nutrition Services is 301-284-4900. This phone number is also for calls related to the Free and Reduced Price Meals program.

I would like to apply for the meals program, but am concerned that my child may get embarrassed if the teachers or other students learn that we need assistance. How can this be avoided?

The Division of Food and Nutrition is charged with keeping the eligibility of each student confidential. We may not disclose individual student eligibility to anyone except the students’ parents, guardians, or the cafeteria managers. School lunch lines are designed to maintain confidentiality by using student PIN numbers. By using this system, there is no way for any student to know if a classmate’s lunch account is being charged or if the student is receiving a free meal.

My child was eligible for free meals last school year. Do I need to apply again?

Yes, households must apply every year to determine if they are eligible for the FARMS program. Federal income guidelines change each year, and it is likely that most household situations change each year.

To avoid interruption in meal benefits while new applications are processed, student eligibility (except for Temporary Free) is carried over temporarily from the previous school year until the new application can be processed in September of the new school year. Once the new application is processed, the eligibility that is determined will be in effect.

How do I apply?

There is an application sent home with the youngest child in the family at the beginning of the school year. Students/families can also pick up a blank application at any MCPS school.

Can I submit just one application for all my children?

Yes. Currently we are using a family/household application, therefore all children must be listed on one application.

Once the application is filled out, it can be returned to any MCPS school or returned directly to the Division of Food and Nutrition Services in-person or via US Mail for processing. The information is entered into a meal application system and an Action-Taken Notice is printed and returned to the school to be sent home with the student. This notifies the families/ households of their eligibility status.

Address to return completed meal application forms directly:

Division of Food and Nutrition Services
Montgomery County Public Schools
8401 Turkey Thicket Drive
Gaithersburg, MD 20879

Students/families can apply at any time during the school year.

My child brought an Application for Free and Reduced Price Meals form home and said I must complete and return it to school. Are all families required to fill out the application?

No. All families are not required to fill out the applications. Only families who need assistance and fall within the federally set income guidelines should apply. Applications are automatically sent home with the youngest in family within the first few days of school. Guidelines are printed on the back of the application to help parents/guardians determine if they might qualify for the program.

Why was my child’s application determined to be not eligible for the program?

Applications are evaluated solely on the number of household members and gross income—no other circumstances can be considered. If you believe your gross income (amount before deductions) is at or less than the maximum income limits for you household size that is listed on the back of the application, you should contact the Division of Food and Nutrition Services to be certain that you have completed your application correctly.

My family situation has changed, can I reapply to the program?

Yes. Families whose household situations change may reapply at any time during the school year.

I lost my copy of the eligibility notice (Action-Taken Notice) I received and would like a copy so that I can apply for other benefits.

Action-Taken Notices (ATN) are not re-issued. ATNs are only issued when applications are input into the database and are automatically generated from the MCPS Data Processing office. Families seeking other benefits may refer the organizations to which they are applying to the income guidelines that are on our web site or on the back of the application. Parents/guardians would need to disclose the number of household members and gross income so that the organization could evaluate their eligibility.

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