Increasing the enrollment of eligible students in your school meal program helps to improve student learning, reduce childhood hunger in your community, strengthen the financial stability of your school meal program, and enhance the school environment for everyone.
Now that the reduced-price meal category has been eliminated for Vermont students and families, having every family complete and return a school meals application is even more beneficial for them and for your school!
Click here for more information about this important and historic change!
Most importantly, we must change the message associated with applying for school meals! When families discover that enrolling their children in school meals can help bring funding for educational programs and free summer or afterschool meals to all of the children in their community, they jump at the chance to contribute. Let families know that they are helping their school by applying.
Here are some resources* to help you increase the number of families who return their school meals applications at the beginning of the school year:
- Hang this poster up around your school. Customize it with your own contact information.
- Have your IT person post this web-ready message front and center on your school's website and Facebook page, and include it in your school newsletter.
- Send this flyer home to families along with the application, or hand them out with the application at your school's fall Open House or other events for parents. You can customize the flyer with your contact information before you print it, so that parents have someone they can call if they need help filling out the application. Some school food service managers have also copied this flyer onto the back side of the menus they send home to parents.
- Put this short article in your school’s newsletter, or in your meals program newsletter. You can modify this article for your school.
*Use Google Chrome or Internet Explorer for best results adding your contact info to printable materials.
Encourage ALL families, regardless of eligibility to return their school meal applications.
Schools have found that this helps to remove stigma for low-income students and reaches those families who mistakenly think they are not eligible. Title I and school food service funding have both increased. VT schools have gotten all students to return the applications by:
- Making the school meals application one of the mandatory forms required from every family.
- Providing incentives, such as free breakfast for a period of time, for any student returning the form (this could increase your breakfast participation too!).
- Inviting parents for breakfast and coffee, and offering personal assistance with the applications in the cafeteria or at open house.