For the 2022-2023 school year, Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools will return to its previous online meal application process for families who want free or reduced-price lunch opportunities. The application process will be fast, secure and trackable and will open Aug. 1. CMS has offered free breakfast to all students since 2012, an option that will continue next year.
Since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic in March 2020, U.S. Department of Agriculture waivers have allowed all K-12 students to have free breakfast and lunch, regardless of income. However, the waiver program was not renewed and ended in June.
"We firmly believe that nutrition and learning are connected," said Cathy Essick, executive director of School Nutrition Services. "Our department is committed to providing students with quality, nutritious and appealing meals in support of their academic success."
Families with students attending Community Eligibility Provision (CEP) schools do not need to apply. Those students will continue to receive free breakfast and lunch through CEP, a non-pricing meal service option for schools and districts that qualify; CMS will have 68 CEP schools next year.
Meal applications should be completed for any school-aged child who will attend a non-CEP school. Families who do not qualify for free or reduced-price lunch must create and maintain funds in a PayPams account or have students pay for meals in cash. These families are also encouraged to submit meal applications, which can increase the district's federal funding for more teachers, supplies and technology.
Please visit the School Nutrition webpage for more information about the free and reduced-price lunch program and application process.