All families encouraged to apply for meal benefits
Posted on 08/28/2020
OCPS News Release logo

Deadline Sept. 22: Dozens of OCPS schools still remain eligible for free, reduced meals

With so many things for students to be concerned about this school year, being able to afford lunch shouldn’t be one of them. Currently, based on income, 67 percent of Orange County Public Schools families – or seven out of 10 students – are eligible to receive free school meals. OCPS Food & Nutrition Services (FNS) is encouraging all parents regardless of income to apply for the 2020-2021 program to help ensure that schools can maintain or expand the availability of free and reduced meal benefits. Despite individual student needs, every application submitted helps schools receive valuable funding and resources.
“Some families may be relying on meal benefits for the first time ever due to pandemic-induced hardships, while others may forget to apply amidst the many decisions they’ve had to make recently,” said Lora Gilbert, Senior Director of the OCPS FNS. “But no child should worry about hunger. This program not only helps students in need, but it also helps families save money and gives parents the convenience of providing nutritional meals for their children every day of the week.”
With free and reduced meal benefits, all eligible children attending school through virtual or in-person learning can receive a healthy breakfast and lunch; at select schools, supper is available as well. Families must submit a new application every year to receive meal benefits, and the total household income determines eligibility. Families can save between $450 - $1,479 per child per school year. In addition to meal benefits, families are eligible for reduced-cost Internet, utilities, and summer camp, as well as free ACT and SAT testing.
FNS operates under strict nutrition guidelines and is regulated by the United States Department of Agriculture. Fruits and vegetables are provided with each meal, and whole grains are incorporated through components such as bread, pizzas, and rice. There are no fried foods or any foods high in fat, sugar or salt. These guidelines, paired with well-known, brand-name products, allow OCPS FNS to serve students healthy, great-tasting meals.
Currently, 133 of OCPS’s 216 schools participate in the Community Eligibility Program (CEP) and provide free meals to students. Twenty-four schools were added to the CEP list in advance of the new school year, and 83 remain eligible, pending applications. The application for the 2020-2021 school year can be filled out online and takes between 15-30 minutes per household. To apply for meal benefits, visit
For more information about OCPS FNS and the meal benefits program, visit and nutrition services or call 407-858-3110, ext. 329-3966.
Media Contact: Vanessa Tostes, 407-739-4532, [email protected]
About Orange County Public Schools (OCPS) Food and Nutrition Services (FNS)
OCPS FNS serves more than 42 million meals and snacks to K-12 students in the Orange County public school system annually. That equals approximately 216,000 breakfast, lunch, and supper meals daily. The department brings in more than $93 million in federal money to the school district and provides award-winning programs.