Boosting NJ School Meal

Hunger Solutions

Boosting School Meals Enrollment

With many New Jersey schools serving free meals to all children, districts across New Jersey are reporting a low return rate of school meal applications. Families should complete these applications to ensure eligible children receive special federal nutrition assistance, known as Pandemic EBT, during COVID and for districts to claim state and federal funding for education programs.

Congress recently extended Pandemic EBT (P-EBT) through Sept. 30, 2021 to children in kindergarten through 12th grade who are eligible to receive free or reduced-price school meals and whose schools are operating on remote learning at least five days a week. Students must be enrolled in the National School Lunch Program to be eligible.

School districts that engage in effective and ongoing outreach have the potential to reach more students. Below is a link to our best practices guide and a sample message to parents.

Strategies for Boosting Enrollment

Sample Message to Parents

Dear Parent,

Please complete the (enclosed, attached or linked) school meal application. Even if your school is providing free meals to all students during the pandemic, it is very important that you complete this form and return it to your school.

These applications are used for several purposes, including to:

  • Determine whether a student is eligible to receive free or low-cost school meals,
  •  Identify students that qualify for Pandemic EBT (P-EBT). This monthly benefit of about $99 is available to students in kindergarten through 12th grade whose school is operating on a remote schedule. Children must be enrolled in the School Lunch Program to be eligible.
  • Determine state and federal funding that supports many of your child’s education programs

Households may apply any time during the school year, but we encourage you to complete the application as soon as possible. Children of parents who become unemployed may become eligible for free or reduced-price meals.

A single application will be accepted for all children in the household attending schools in the same district. Household members do not have to be U.S. citizens for children to qualify.