Think Outside the Lunchbox

  • Free and Reduced Benefits Program is More than just Meals, but that is where it Starts

    The National School Lunch Program

    Think outside the lunchbox graphic District 49 participates in the National School Lunch Program (NSLP) which is a federally assisted meal program that provides nutritionally balanced, low-cost or free lunches and breakfasts to children each school day. The program was established under the National School Lunch Act. With over 1 in 5 children in the United States living in a food-insecure household, NSLP plays a critical role in the healthy development and long-term health and educational outcomes for low-income children. 

    Who Qualifies for NSLP

    Low-income children are eligible to receive reduced-price or free meals at school. Children in households with incomes below 130 percent of the poverty level or those receiving SNAP or TANF qualify for free meals. Those with family incomes between 130 and 185 percent of the poverty line qualify for reduced-price meals. When school is out of session in the summertime, children continue to receive nutritious meals and snacks through the Summer Food Service Program. Families must apply each year. We encourage families to apply even if they have been denied in the past, and especially if their financial situation has changed in recent months. 

    To apply for the Free and Reduced Benefits Program at D49, check out the Nutrition Services information webpage. 

    To best serve the entire D49 family, we strongly encourage all who qualify or may qualify for the Free and Reduced Benefits Program to apply or reapply by Monday, Sept. 12.
    After Sept. 12, all families who have not reapplied for the 2022-23 school year will be removed from the benefit program.

    Please keep in mind:

    • Families must reapply every year. 
    • Families who had meal benefits last year have a 30 day grace period to apply for this year before students will be removed.
    • Families are responsible for all purchases until applications are processed and qualified for benefits. 
    • Families can use PaySchools to make on-line meal payments, set up low-balance alerts and track student purchases. 
    • Reduced meal co-pays are covered by the state of Colorado, making the meals no cost for qualifying students (K-12) 


    Other Benefits with NSLP

    If you are enrolled in the Free and Reduced Benefits Program you are eligible for other financial benefits.

    Check with your school for reduced or waved fees for:

    Check with these community organizations for reduced or waved fees for:

    • Parks & Rec youth sports
    • YMCA fees
    • Cable/internet carriers
    • Phone carriers
    • Community animal hospitals, free or reduce fees on some services like neutering.
    • Cheyenne Mountain Zoo offers summer camp scholarships
    • El Paso County Nature Centers offers $4 program fees and summer camp scholarships


    District 49’s Career and College Readiness

    Did you know that you can explore careers, develop technical skills, earn industry certifications, and take free college classes through D49? Check out the variety of Career & College Readiness programs available where you can learn more about your interests and talents, build your digital profile and resume, and work on real-world projects to prepare for your future goals and dreams.

    You do not have to be enrolled in the Free and Reduced Benefits Program to participate in these programs. But, those students that are enrolled can receive free college text books or waived costs, like the beauty school lab fees.  

    Career training can begin in middle school, while free college and Career Start begins with 9th grade.

    More information is available on the Career & College Readiness webpage.