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Meal Payments/FARMS

Community Eligibility Provision (CEP) Schools

New for the 2024–2025 School Year

60 MCPS Schools will operate under the Community Eligibility Provision (CEP).  Students enrolled at these CEP schools may receive breakfast and lunch at no cost regardless of household income.  A list of the participating schools can be found here.

Purchasing School Meals at NON-CEP Schools

Meal Prices for School Year 2024–2025:

Breakfast for All Schools      $1.30
Elementary Lunch $2.55
Secondary Lunch $2.80

DFNS encourages all families with students enrolled at non-CEP schools to complete a Free and Reduced-price Meals Application (see next section for more details).

All meals are free for students who qualify for free and reduced-price meals.

  • MCPS cafeterias use a computerized Point of Sale (POS) system. Students use either an ID card with a specialized barcode or their student ID number to access their account at mealtime.
  • A student's Free and Reduced-price Meals (FARM) status is always confidential.
  • Students who qualify for reduced-price meals will not be charged that cost—students approved for reduced-price meals will eat for free!
  • Any student can make deposits into their account, either ahead of time, on My School Bucks, or by our online payment system (see below).

Apply for FARMS

Free and Reduced-Price Meals

Students at schools participating in  CEP are eligibile for free meals and do not need to apply for Free and Reduced-price Meals (FARMS).  Students at non-CEP schools 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.

Students who qualify for reduced-price meals will eat for free!

Apply online at (translations available) Click here for an English video tutorial.

Vea aquí un vídeo paso a paso en español sobre cómo completar la solicitud de FARMS.

  • Federal eligibility guidelines change each school year; therefore, a new application must be submitted each school year.
  • List all students in the family on one household application.
  • Each student will be notified of meal benefit status (including both those approved, and those who do not qualify) by mail.  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.

Apply Online

Household Application for Free and Reduced-price Meals 2024-2025

Online applications are available now for Free and Reduced-price Meals for the 2024-2025 school year. 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 2024-2025 application is processed.

  • APPLY ONLINE for faster processing. Households who apply online should not submit a paper application.
  • Please complete paper applications in black ink (not pencil).
  • Your first name, last name, and middle initial are required on the application.
  • Please provide birth date, grade, and school name 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 you are applying for a child who is homeless, a migrant, or a 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.

Students in households participating in Women, Infants, and Children Program (WIC) may be eligible for free or reduced-priced meals

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 enrolled in Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), Temporary Cash Assistance (TCA), or Medicaid.

Income Guidelines 2024-2025

Household Size Annually Monthly Weekly
1 $27,861 $2,322 $536
2 $37,814 $3,152 $728
3 $47,767 $3,981 $919
4 $57,720 $4,810 $1,110
5 $67,673 $5,640 $1,302
6 $77,626 $6,469 $1,493
7 $87,579 $7,299 $1,685
8 $97,532 $8,128 $1,876
for each additional family member, add +$9,953 +$830 +$192


How to Prepay

  • Parents/guardians may deposit any amount into their student’s school meals account. Meals and à-la-carte items are deducted from the account at the time of purchase only.
  • The school meals account is not a credit system.
  • Checks are the best way to make a deposit. Write the student’s name and ID number on the front of the check and make it payable to the school cafeteria.
  • You may give checks to the cafeteria manager or cashier. Prepayments help serving lines run smoothly.
  • If parents/guardians have more than one child in the same school, you can write a check for all your children there. Be sure to write each student’s name and ID number on the check so that it can be credited properly.
  • 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.
  • We cannot accept post-dated checks.
  • 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 questions concerning our check acceptance policy, please call CHECKredi at 1-800-239-1222.

Manage Account Balances

  • Account balances from the previous year follow the student to the public school in Montgomery County where the student is enrolled. Any money left on the account from the previous year will be available to that student for the new school year.
  • If your student will NOT return to an MCPS school next year, you may request a refund.
  • If you have another child currently enrolled in an MCPS school, you may request a balance transfer to that child's school.
  • Balances can also be donated to support unpaid meal debt accrued by MCPS students. 
  • Email refund and balance-transfer requests to


Online Prepayments

MCPS - My School Bucks

MySchoolBucks instructions:

Dine w Dignity text English |  español |  中文 |  français |  tiếng Việt |  한국어 |  አማርኛ

  • MySchoolBucks is an optional service for parents to view recent purchases and make prepayments to a student's school meals account for breakfast, lunch, and à-la-carte meals online, using a credit or debit card.
  • Parents can manage their child's school meal payments by creating a secure online account.
  • Payments to student accounts through MySchoolBucks is an option and not a requirement. 
  • Please note that there is $2.49 transaction fee charged for each credit/debit card payment made with MySchoolBucks. Funds can continue to be added to student meal accounts at no charge by bringing cash or checks directly to school cafeteria managers. 

How to Enroll in MySchoolBucks

  • Go to 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.

Explanation of Fees

  • There is a $2.49 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 and 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 to Friday, from 7:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. eastern standard time.

Manage 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 MCPS next year, you should request a refund. You can request a balance transfer if you have another child currently enrolled in an MCPS school.  Email refund and balance transfer requests to

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

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 Services is charged with keeping the eligibility of each student confidential. We may not disclose individual student eligibility to anyone except the student's 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!

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!

A paper application may be completed and 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 family/ household of their eligibility status.  Please keep this important document for your records and use throughout the school year.

Return completed meal application forms directly to—
Division of Food and Nutrition Services
Montgomery County Public Schools
8401 Turkey Thicket Drive
Gaithersburg, MD 20879

Students/families can apply anytime during the school year.

Why was my child’s application determined 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 Notice (ATN) for use throughout the school year. Requests for duplicate ATNs must be requested from the Division of Food and Nutrition 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 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.