Purchasing School Meals

Our MCPS cafeterias utilize a computerized Point of Sale (POS) system. Students utilize either an ID Card with a specialized barcode or their student ID number to access the account at mealtime. A student's Free and Reduced Meal (FARM) status is always confidential, to learn more and apply for FARMs click here. Beginning school year 2022-2023, students who qualify for reduced-price meals will not be charged that cost - meaning that reduced-price students will eat for free! Deposits into the account can be made by any student and can be made ahead of time on our online payment system, My School Bucks (see below). 


Advantages of the School Meals Account

  • School meals are convenient, economical and healthy. Today’s families are busy and a school meal account provides a quick option for providing a well balanced meal.
  • Funds deposited on a student’s account eliminate carrying lunch money every day.
  • All purchases are tracked and an account history can be requested if there is a need to check how money is being spent.
  • Money can be placed on the account to ensure that a child does not go without a meal if lunch money or a bag lunch is forgotten at home.
  • Students can benefit educationally by learning how to manage their own account balance.

How to Make Prepayments

  • Any amount can be deposited into the student’s account. Meals and a la carte items are deducted from the account only at the time of purchase. The school meals account is not a credit system and checks are the best way to make a deposit. Write the student’s name and ID number of the front of the check and make it payable to the school cafeteria. Checks can be given to the cafeteria manager or cashier. Prepayments made prior to mealtime helps keep serving lines running smoothly.
  • If you have more than one child in school, you can write a check for all your children who attend the same school. Be sure to write each student’s name and ID number on the check so that it can be properly credited. Please indicate the deposit amount for each student next to the name.

Check Acceptance Policy

Checks used to pay for school meals must contain an address, phone number and student ID 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.


Account Balances

  • At the start of the school year, account balances from the previous year follow the student to the school in Montgomery County where the student is enrolled. Any money left on the account from the previous year will be available for the new school year.
  • 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.

Online Prepayments

 MCPS - My School Bucks


 MySchoolBucks instructions in PDF format:

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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.

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Benefits

  • Easy: Enrolling and funding is simple and completed online.
  • Convenient: Once your account is established. You can check balances, view student purchases and fund your child’s account from your computer.
  • Secure: Your personal and payment card information is protected by the most advanced internet security.
  • One Time: With the automatic payment option, money will always be in your child’s account. When a low balance is reached, money is automatically deposited.
  • Low Balance E-Mail Notification:Parents can receive an e-mail message when their child’s account balance is low.
  • Next Day Availability: Prepayments will generally be available at the school the next day.

How to Enroll

  • Go to www.myschoolbucks.com and click on "Sign up today!"
  • Create an account for yourself, and add your children. You will need the student’s name (exactly as it appears on their report card), school, grade, birth date, and six-digit student ID number.
  • (OPTIONAL) Provide credit or debit card information, if you would like to make prepayments to your child's cafeteria account.
  • Select a Meal Payment Option to make a prepayment, or select your child's name to view recent cafeteria purchases.

Important

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.


Support

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.


School Cafeteria Account Balances

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.

Free and Reduced-Price Meals

Students may qualify for free or reduced-price meals based on household size and income. They may also qualify if they are receiving Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), Temporary Cash Assistance (TCA), or Medicaid benefits. Families may apply for meal benefits by completing an Application for Free and Reduced-Price Meals for the current school year. Beginning school year 2022-2023, students who qualify for reduced-price meals will not be charged that cost - meaning that reduced-price students will eat for free!

Apply online NOW at MySchoolApps.com (Translations available) Click here for an English video tutorial. Click here for a Spanish video tutorial.

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 to 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 240-740-7400.

Please click here to apply online. 


Household Application for Free and Reduced-Price Meals 2022-23

Online Applications are available now for Free and Reduced Meals for the 2022-2023 school year. If you have any questions, please call 240-740-7400.

Meal benefit eligibility from last school year will remain current only through the first 30 scheduled school days OR until a 2022-2023 application is processed.

  • FOR FASTER PROCESSING APPLY ONLINE. Households who apply online should not submit a paper application.
  • Please complete paper applications in black ink (not pencil).
  • If you ARE applying for free or reduced-price meals, first, last name, and middle initial are required.
  • Please provide birth date, grade, and school to expedite processing.
  • Use ONE application for ALL students in the household—including Pre-K, kindergarten, and foster—even if they attend different schools.
  • If any child you are applying for is homeless, migrant, or runaway, please call your child's school or contact the MCPS Homeless liaison at 240-740-4511.

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 or reduced-priced meals:

  • Students in households participating in Women, Infants, and Children Program (WIC)

The following students qualify for free meals:

  • Foster children
  • Students certified as homeless or runaway
  • Students enrolled in the Migrant Education program
  • Students enrolled in the Head Start program
  • Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), Temporary Cash Assistance (TCA), or Medicaid.

Income Guidelines 2022-23

Household Size Annually Monthly Weekly
1 $25,142 $2,096 $484
2 $33,874 $2,823 $652
3 $42,606 $3,551 $820
4 $51,338 $4,279 $988
5 $60,070 $5,006 $1,156
6 $68,802 $5,734      $1,324     
7 $77,534 $6,462 $1,492
8 $86,266      $7,189 $1,659
for each additional family member, add +$8,732 +$728 +$168

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 240-740-7400. This phone number is also for calls related to the Free and Reduced Price Meals program. You may also contact us via email at DFNSOffice@mcpsmd.org.

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 cafeteria managers. School lunch lines are designed to maintain confidentiality by using student ID 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 most household situations likely 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.

How do I apply?

For Faster Processing Apply online now!

Students/families may request a paper 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.

For faster processing, 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.

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 your 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.

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 240-740-7400. Due to the confidential meal benefit information included, ATNs may not be faxed or emailed. Duplicate copies will be mailed to the student address on file.

Families seeking other benefits may also refer to the organizations to which they are applying to the income guidelines that are on our website 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.