Division of Food & Nutrition Services > Meal Payments/FARMS
The school cafeterias use a computerized cash register system. Every student in Montgomery County schools has an account to use. All students have a PIN (personalized identification number). To access the account at mealtime, a student enters his/her PIN on a keypad. At high schools with photo identification systems, the student passes his/her student ID card through a card reader. Once the account is accessed, all students use the system in the same way. When a cashier rings up breakfast, lunch or a la carte items, the total amount of the sale is deducted from the prepaid balance in the account. When a student owes money, or does not have enough on the account, the student may pay with cash at the time of purchase.
Deposits into the account can be made by any student. The system is programmed to know which students are eligible for free and reduced-price meals. A student’s status is always confidential. Students eligible for reduced price meals may prepay or pay with cash at the time of purchase.
Checks used to pay for school meals must contain an address, phone number and student pin number. Returned checks are subject to recovery for the face value and a fee of $25 through an electronic debit or paper draft to the same account. Your payment by check constitutes your acceptance of these terms. If you have any questions concerning our check acceptance policy, please call CHECKredi at 1-800-239-1222.
MySchoolBucks instructions in PDF format:
MySchoolBucks is an optional service for parents to view recent purchases and make prepayments to your child's cafeteria account for breakfast, lunch and a la carte meals via the Internet with a credit/debit card. This service is offered as a convenience for interested families. By creating a secure online account, parents can manage their child's account.
We have been informed that Heartland has unilaterally changed the My School Bucks Terms of Services for the 2019-2020 school year. This unilateral change appears to have been prompted by a lawsuit against the company that operates My School Bucks, titled Story v. Heartland Payment Systems, LLC, currently pending in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Florida. Montgomery County Public Schools is actively working with the company to have this issue resolved.
Payments to student accounts through My School Bucks is an option and not a requirement. Checks can be made payable to the school cafeteria and submitted to the cafeteria manager. The check funds will be placed on student accounts for immediate use and the checks will be deposited in the bank the same day.
Send refund and balance transfer requests via email to DFNSHelpDesk@mcpsmd.org.
There is a $1.95 convenience fee for each payment transaction. All fees are displayed at the time of payment. There is no cost to set up an account and check your child’s spending history or receive low balance notifications. Neither the school nor the Division of Food and Nutrition Services receive any income from providing this service. Fees are associated with processing online credit/debit card payments. This service is optional — schools will continue to accept checks and cash for meals in the cafeteria.
Call the MySchoolBucks toll-free customer support center at 1-855-832-5226 for assistance with enrollment or questions about your account. MySchoolBucks support staff are available Monday-Friday from 7:00 AM - 7:00 PM EST.
If your child will be returning to a MCPS school, any remaining balance will automatically carry-forward to the school your child will attend next school year. If your child will NOT return to a MCPS school next year, you should request a refund or, you can request a balance transfer if you have another child currently enrolled in a MCPS school. Send refund and balance transfer requests via email to DFNSHelpDesk@mcpsmd.org.
Students may qualify for free or reduced-price meals based on household size and income. They may also qualify if they are receiving Food Supplement Program (FSP) or Temporary Cash Assistance (TCA) benefits. Families may apply for meal benefits by completing an Application for Free and Reduced-Price Meals for the current school year.
Apply online NOW at MySchoolApps.com (Translations available)
Federal eligibility guidelines change each school year; therefore a new application must be submitted each school year. All students in the family should be listed on one household application. A notice will be mailed home for each student if you are approved for meal benefits or do not qualify for meal benefits. Please keep this important document for your records and use throughout the school year. Families may apply for meal benefits at any time during the school year.
Households that are unable to apply online should contact their school or the Division of Food and Nutrition Services at 301-284-4900.
Please click here to apply online.
Online Applications are available now for Free and Reduced Meals for the 2020-2021 school year. If you have any questions, please call 301-284-4900.
Meal benefit eligibility from last school year will remain current only through the first 30 scheduled school days OR until a 2020-2021 application is processed.
Montgomery County Public Schools serve breakfast and lunch every school day. If your total household income is the same or less than the amounts on the Income Chart below, your child may qualify for free or reduced-price meals.
The following students may be eligible for free meals:
The following students qualify for free meals:
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. You may also contact us via email DFNSOffice@mcpsmd.org.
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.
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 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.
NEW: For Faster Processing Apply online now!
There is a paper application sent home with all students at the beginning of the school year. Students/families can also pick up a paper application at any MCPS school.
Yes. Currently we are using a family/household application, therefore all children must be listed on one application.
For faster processing, households may apply online!
If a paper 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 U.S. Mail for processing.
The information provided online or via paper application is entered into a meal application system and an Action-Taken Notice is printed and mailed to the address of record for the student. This notifies the families/ households of their eligibility status. Please keep this important document for your records and use throughout the school year.
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.
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 all students within the first few days of school. Guidelines are printed on the second page of the application to help parents/guardians determine if they might qualify 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.
Yes. Families whose household situations change may reapply at any time during the school year.
Parents/guardians are asked to retain the Action-Taken Notices (ATN) for use throughout the school year. Requests for duplicate ATNs must be requested from the Food Services office by calling 301-284-4900. Due to the confidential meal benefit information included, ATNs may not be faxed or emailed. Duplicate copies take one week for processing and must be picked up by a parent or another household adult with photo identification at the DFNS office in Gaithersburg.
Families seeking other benefits may also refer the organizations to which they are applying to the income guidelines that are on our web site or on the second page 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.