Purchasing School Meals

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.


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 PIN 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 PIN 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 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.


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. Students returning to the same school keep the same PIN. When a student enters a different Montgomery County school from the last year, the student receives a new PIN.
  • If a student transfers to another school in Montgomery County during the school year, the student or parent should notify the cafeteria manager so that any account balance can be transferred to the new school. When a student transfers to another Montgomery County school, the student receives a new PIN. After transferring, check with the cafeteria manager to find out the new PIN.
  • 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:

English  |  español  | 中文  | français |  tiếng Việt  한국어 | አማርኛ 

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.

Send refund and balance transfer requests via email to DFNSHelpDesk@mcpsmd.org.

 Dine w Dignity text


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 (not their PIN).
  • (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 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. New this year: For faster processing, households may apply online at MySchoolApps.com. A paper application is sent home with students at the beginning of the school year. Blank applications may also be picked up at any MCPS school. All students in the family should be listed on one application only. If students received meal benefits last year, a new application must be submitted this year. If an application is submitted online, please do not submit a paper application also.

Return completed applications to any MCPS school or the Division of Food and Nutrition Services in person or by U.S. Mail.

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

A notice will be mailed home for your child 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.

Students may also apply for meal benefits at any time during the school year.

Please click here to apply online. 


Household Application for Free and Reduced-Price Meals 2019-20

MySchoolApps.com is now open to submit the 2019-2020 Free and Reduced Priced meals applications. 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 2019-2020 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 NOT applying for meal benefits, discard the paper form.
  • 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 (online OR paper) 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.

español | 中文 | français | tiếng Việt 한국어 | አማርኛ  

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:

  • 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
  • Students in households receiving Food Supplement Program (FSP) or Temporary Cash Assistance (TCA)

Income Guidelines 2019-20

Household Size Annually Monthly Weekly
1 $23,107 1,926 445
2 $31,284 2,607 602
3 $39,461 3,289 759
4 $47,638 3,970 917
5 $55,815 4,652 1,074
6 $63,992 5,333 1,231
7 $72,169 6,015 1,388
8 $80,346 6,696 1,546
for each additional family member, add +$8,177 682 158

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. You may also contact us via email 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 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 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?

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.

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, 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.

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 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.

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.

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.