ARKANSAS (KNWA/KFTA) — Inflation, interest rates and food shortages are all contributing to families having less to spend. Some schools are also having to increase the price of food served to kids.

With school around the corner, the once-normal expense might be hitting your wallet a little harder this year.

Here is how you can see if you qualify for free or reduced lunch:

When & how to apply?

Parents or guardians can apply at any time during the school year, but most can find applications sent at the beginning of each school year.

Applicants can fill out a paper application that will go back to the child’s school.

Some schools have online applications. Reach out to the school to see if they have an online application.

How to know if you qualify for Free or Reduced school meals?

Families that are earning at or below current Income Eligibility Guidelines, are encouraged to contact the school or district to fill out a school meal application. Applications are reviewed by local school or district officials before granting free or reduced-price benefits.

If anyone in the household receives Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefits, all of your children who attend school automatically qualify for free school meals, according to the USDA. Participation in other federal assistance programs, including Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) also provides automatic eligibility. Please contact your school to determine if you need to fill out an application.

The USDA also states that those eligible for unemployment compensation or The Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC), may also be eligible for free or reduced-price school meals.

What do I need for the application?

The two-page application will ask for:

  • All children in the household name, grade and relation
  • Participation in TANF, SNAP or FDPIR
  • All household members and the income of each. This includes Social Security information
  • School address and signature