Improving Enrollment In School Breakfast & Lunch

You will want to enroll all eligible students in the free/reduced price meal program to feed all the hungry children in your school, improve their nutrition and maximize your reimbursement dollars. Increasing enrollment in your school meal program will also increase Title I funding for educational programs and eligibility across the community to serve free summer and afterschool meals.


1. Use Hunger Free Vermont's Guide to Increasing Enrollment in School Meals To Understand the importance of meal program enrollment and learn best practices

This guide can help inform your school's outreach efforts as well as provide critical information on why you want all families to complete and return the school meal application. You can then select from our suite of ready-to-go materials to get the word out. 

2. Do an Enrollment Campaign in your School:

  • Hang this poster up around your school. 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.

  • 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 cover letter 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.

  • Include our tip sheet to assist families in completing the application. Consider pairing this with our back to school flyer

  • Use our sample language in your school’s newsletter, Front Porch Forum, or as a robocall to families. 

  • You can also send a follow-up letter home to remind families to return applications after your initial outreach push.

  • Our school meals one-pager is a great primer on why school meals matter and how to apply. Share this handout with other school and community stakeholders to build common language and understanding around meal programs. Empowers colleagues to be advocates to ensure all families apply for school meals!

*If you have trouble opening PDFs from your browser, save a copy and open in Adobe Reader. 

3. Encourage ALL families, regardless of eligibility to return their school meal applications

Schools have found that when all families are required to return the application, many more will fill out the application. When all students return the applications, this removes the stigma for low-income students and reaches those families who mistakenly think they are not eligible. Invite families to support your school by completing and returning their meal applications. 

4. Offer families Support and encouragement around 3squaresvt application

Supporting families in applying for 3SquaresVT benefits can increase the number of students directly certified to receive free school meals, as well as support student food security at home. Use our sample letters and outreach materials to promote this benefit to the families you serve.