Maine is one of the first states in the nation to provide free meals to all students.
Browse the questions and answers below to learn more about how this law impacts program operators.
Beginning in the 2022-23 school year, the state of Maine will cover the cost of a paid school breakfast and school lunch for all students. The state already picks up the cost of a reduced price breakfast and lunch. So for any child ineligible for a free breakfast and lunch, the state will pay the difference between the free reimbursement and a paid reimbursement for both breakfast and lunch, and the difference between a reduced price reimbursement and a free reimbursement for both breakfast and lunch. Currently, this law applies to public schools and public/private Town Academy high schools operating the National School Lunch Program (NSLP).
The funding for Maine’s School Meals for All law is in the state budget, and will recur every year moving forward. Maine has made school meals available at no cost to every student a permanent policy.
If you are operating a traditional school meal service model, yes. You will need to continue to collect applications and claim meals based on a student’s eligibility (free/reduced/or paid). Use our outreach toolkit to encourage families to fill out the school meal benefit form.
You can choose to operate meal service using a special provision: eligible schools can use the Community Eligibility Provision (CEP) and any school can operate Special Provision 2. While operating under a Special Provision, you no longer need to collect school meal applications. For more information visit this link.
Schools and districts operating CEP or Provision 2 are not required to collect meal applications or conduct verification activities once they have established a base year.
Schools and districts operating CEP or Provision 2 also do not have to claim students by their individual eligibility status.
Schools and districts operating CEP or Provision 2 should use the Alternative Household Income Form to collect data for the disadvantaged student rate that is used for Title 1 and other federal and state education funding.
No, CACFP At-Risk Afterschool Meals and Summer Meals are free to all students in area eligible districts and communities with 50% or more F/R eligible students. Only meals served in public schools through the School Breakfast Program and National School Lunch Program are impacted by Maine’s law.