Illinois National School Breakfast and Lunch Program Benefits

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Illinois National School Breakfast and Lunch Program
Illinois National School Breakfast and Lunch Program

STATE REIMBURSEMENT: Through the Illinois Free Lunch and Breakfast Program, each free breakfast served is eligible for state reimbursement*. Actual reimbursement rate depends on total allotted funds and amount of statewide participation.

What is this program?

The National School Lunch Program (NSLP) and School Breakfast Program (SBP) are voluntary programs administered by the Illinois State Board of Education in the state of Illinois. NSLP and SBP are available to all public schools, private schools, and residential child care institutions which agree to operate a non-profit program offering lunches meeting Federal requirements to all children in attendance.

Purpose of the Illinois National School Breakfast and Lunch Program

The purpose of the Illinois National School Breakfast and Lunch Program is to ensure that students, especially those from low-income families, have access to nutritious meals during the school day. This federally assisted program is designed to support the overall well-being, health, and academic success of students by providing them with balanced and affordable meals.

Key purposes of the Illinois National School Breakfast and Lunch Program include:

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  • Nutrition and Health: The program aims to improve the nutritional quality of students’ diets by offering meals that meet specific dietary guidelines. By providing balanced and healthy breakfasts and lunches, the program contributes to students’ overall health and well-being.
  • Access to Nutritious Meals: The program focuses on ensuring that all students, regardless of their socioeconomic background, have access to nutritious meals. It is particularly targeted at students from families with limited financial resources.
  • Academic Performance: Proper nutrition is linked to improved academic performance. By offering breakfast and lunch to students, the program aims to enhance concentration, cognitive function, and overall academic achievement.
  • Reducing Food Insecurity: For many students, school meals may represent a significant portion of their daily nutrition. The program helps reduce food insecurity by providing consistent and reliable access to meals, addressing the nutritional needs of students.
  • Promoting Healthy Eating Habits: The program plays a role in promoting healthy eating habits from a young age. By exposing students to balanced and nutritious meals, it contributes to the development of lifelong habits that support health and well-being.
  • Financial Assistance for Families: For eligible families, the program provides financial assistance by offering free or reduced-price meals. This assistance helps alleviate the financial burden on families with limited income.
  • Eliminating Stigma: The program helps eliminate stigma associated with receiving subsidized meals. By offering meals to all students, regardless of their economic background, it promotes inclusivity and reduces any potential embarrassment for those receiving assistance.
  • Meeting Federal Nutrition Standards: The program aligns with federal nutrition standards, ensuring that meals provided to students are well-balanced and meet established guidelines for essential nutrients.
  • Community and Economic Impact: The program has positive community and economic impacts by supporting local agriculture through the purchase of food products and creating jobs within the food service industry.
  • Supporting Educational Goals: By addressing the nutritional needs of students, the program aligns with broader educational goals, contributing to an environment that fosters learning, growth, and development.

Overall, the Illinois National School Breakfast and Lunch Program is a vital component of efforts to enhance the health and educational outcomes of students while addressing issues of food insecurity and promoting healthy eating habits.

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Illinois National School Breakfast and Lunch Program Benefits


The Illinois National School Breakfast and Lunch Program offer several benefits to students, families, and the community as a whole. Some key benefits include:

  • Nutrition and Health Improvement: The program ensures that students receive nutritious meals that contribute to their overall health. Well-balanced breakfasts and lunches provide essential vitamins, minerals, and energy necessary for growth and development.
  • Enhanced Academic Performance: Proper nutrition has a positive impact on cognitive function and concentration. By offering nutritious meals, the program supports students in achieving better academic performance and reaching their full potential in the classroom.
  • Access to Affordable Meals: The program provides access to affordable meals for all students, with options for free or reduced-price meals for eligible families. This helps alleviate financial strain on families and ensures that students have access to regular, nutritious meals.
  • Reduced Food Insecurity: For many students, school meals may represent a significant portion of their daily nutrition. The program helps reduce food insecurity by providing consistent access to meals, ensuring that students have enough to eat throughout the school day.
  • Elimination of Stigma: By offering meals to all students, regardless of their socioeconomic status, the program eliminates stigma associated with receiving subsidized meals. This inclusive approach helps create a supportive and welcoming school environment.
  • Promotion of Healthy Eating Habits: The program exposes students to healthy eating habits by offering meals that meet federal nutrition standards. This contributes to the development of lifelong habits that support overall health and well-being.
  • Financial Assistance for Families: Families facing financial challenges benefit from the program’s provision of free or reduced-price meals. This assistance helps ensure that students from low-income households have access to the nutrition they need to thrive.
  • Community and Economic Impact: The program has positive economic effects by supporting local agriculture through the purchase of food products and creating jobs within the food service industry. This contributes to the economic vitality of the community.
  • Support for Educational Goals: The program aligns with broader educational goals by addressing the nutritional needs of students. Well-nourished students are better positioned to engage in learning, participate in extracurricular activities, and succeed academically.
  • Healthy School Environment: By providing nutritious meals, the program contributes to creating a healthy school environment. This, in turn, supports positive student behavior, reduces absenteeism, and fosters a culture of well-being.

In summary, the benefits of the Illinois National School Breakfast and Lunch Program extend beyond individual students to impact families, communities, and the educational system as a whole. The program plays a crucial role in supporting the health, well-being, and academic success of students across the state.

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Who is eligible for this program?

To be eligible for this benefit program, you must be a resident of the state of Illinois and all of the following:

  • A parent or primary caregiver, and
  • Responsible for a child(ren) who attends school (high school or under).

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Illinois National School Breakfast and Lunch Program Income Limits

In order to qualify, you must have an annual household income (before taxes) that is below the following amounts:

Household SizeMaximum Income Level (Per Year)
1$26,973
2$36,482
3$45,991
4$55,500
5$65,009
6$74,518
7$84,027
8$93,536

For households with more than eight people, add $9,509 per additional person. Always check with the appropriate managing agency to ensure the most accurate guidelines.

Documents Required for Illinois National School Breakfast and Lunch Program

To apply for the National School Breakfast and Lunch Program (NSLP) in Illinois, certain documents and information may be required to determine eligibility. While specific requirements may vary depending on the school district, the following are commonly requested documents:

  • Household Income Information: This can include recent pay stubs, documentation of income from jobs, unemployment benefits, or other sources of income for all members of the household.
  • Proof of Participation in Assistance Programs: If applicable, documentation proving participation in programs such as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), or the Food Distribution Program on Indian Reservations (FDPIR) may be required.
  • Household Size Information: Information regarding the number of individuals living in the household, including the names and ages of all household members, is typically required.
  • Identification for Children: Some schools may request identification for each child applying for the program, such as a birth certificate or passport.
  • Proof of Address: This may include a recent utility bill, lease agreement, or any other official document that verifies the current residential address of the household.

It’s important to note that specific documentation requirements may vary between school districts, so it is advisable to contact the local school district’s administration or the Illinois State Board of Education for a comprehensive list of required documents and any additional information needed for the application process.

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Required eligibility for the Illinois National School Breakfast and Lunch Program

Eligibility for the Illinois National School Breakfast and Lunch Program is determined based on various factors, primarily focusing on the financial circumstances of the student’s household. The program follows federal guidelines to establish eligibility, and key criteria include:

  • Income Level: Household income is a primary factor in determining eligibility. The program offers free or reduced-price meals to students from families with income levels that fall within specified limits. These limits are set by the federal government and are adjusted annually.
  • Household Size: The size of the student’s household is considered when determining eligibility. As household size increases, the income threshold for eligibility may also increase.
  • Federal Poverty Guidelines: Eligibility is often tied to the Federal Poverty Guidelines, which are issued annually by the federal government. Families with income levels at or below a certain percentage of the poverty line may qualify for free or reduced-price meals.
  • Categorical Eligibility: Certain students may be categorically eligible for free meals without submitting an application. This includes students in households that receive assistance through programs like the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), or the Food Distribution Program on Indian Reservations (FDPIR).
  • Foster, Homeless, and Migrant Status: Students who are identified as foster, homeless, or migrant are often automatically eligible for free meals. Schools work to identify students with these statuses and ensure they receive the benefits they qualify for.
  • Direct Certification: Schools may use a process called direct certification to identify students automatically eligible for free meals based on their participation in other assistance programs. This helps streamline the eligibility determination process.
  • Application Process: Families not eligible through categorical eligibility or direct certification are required to submit a Free and Reduced-Price Meal Application. The information provided in this application helps determine eligibility based on income and household size.

It’s important for families to complete the Free and Reduced-Price Meal Application accurately and submit it to the school to determine their eligibility for the program. Schools typically provide information about the application process at the beginning of the school year, and applications may be accepted at any time during the school year.

For the most accurate and up-to-date information on eligibility criteria and the application process, families should contact their child’s school or the school district’s nutrition services department.

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How To Apply For Illinois National School Breakfast and Lunch Program

To apply for the Illinois National School Breakfast and Lunch Program, follow these general steps:

  • Obtain the Application Form: Contact your child’s school or visit the school district’s website to obtain the Free and Reduced-Price Meal Application form. This form is typically available online or can be obtained from the school’s main office.
  • Complete the Application Form: Fill out the application form accurately and completely. Provide information about all household members, their income, and any applicable assistance program participation. Follow the instructions on the form carefully.
  • Gather Required Documentation: Depending on the application, you may need to provide documentation to support the information provided. This could include pay stubs, proof of participation in assistance programs, or other income-related documents.
  • Submit the Application: Return the completed application form and any required documentation to the school. Most schools accept applications throughout the school year, and applications can often be submitted in person or by mail.
  • Application Processing: The school’s nutrition services department will process the application and determine the eligibility of the student for free or reduced-price meals. This process typically takes a few days, but the exact timeline may vary.
  • Notification of Eligibility: Once the application is processed, you will be notified of the eligibility status. This notification will inform you whether your child qualifies for free meals, reduced-price meals, or if the application was denied.
  • Confidentiality: Keep in mind that the application process is confidential. Information about a student’s eligibility for the program is generally not shared with other students or parents.
  • Renewal of Eligibility: Eligibility for the National School Breakfast and Lunch Program is typically determined for the school year. Families may need to reapply at the beginning of each school year, or when there are changes in their household income or composition.
  • Contact School Staff: If you have questions about the application process, eligibility, or any related concerns, contact the school’s nutrition services department or other designated staff for assistance. They can provide guidance and address any inquiries you may have.

It’s important to note that the application process may have specific details that vary by school or school district. Therefore, it’s recommended to refer to the instructions provided with the application form and contact the school directly if you have any questions or need clarification on the process.

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How can I contact someone?

For more information on the National School Lunch and School Breakfast Programs operating in Illinois, please visit the School Nutrition Programs page.

  • Or send an email to:
  • CNP@isbe.net

Phone calls can be made to the Nutrition Programs Division of the Illinois State Board of Education at 1-800-545-7892 (in Illinois) or 217-782-2491. – CNP@isbe.net

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FAQs. Illinois National School Breakfast and Lunch Program

1. What is the Illinois National School Breakfast and Lunch Program (NSBP)?

The NSBP is a federally assisted program that provides nutritious meals to students in participating schools at free or reduced prices. It aims to support students’ health, well-being, and academic success by ensuring access to balanced meals during the school day.

2. How do I know if my child is eligible for free or reduced-price meals?

Eligibility is based on household income and size. Families can complete a Free and Reduced-Price Meal Application available through the school to determine if their child qualifies. Certain students may be categorically eligible based on participation in other assistance programs.

3. How can I obtain a Free and Reduced-Price Meal Application?

Applications are typically available through your child’s school or the school district’s website. Contact the school’s nutrition services department or visit the school office to obtain a copy. Some schools also provide online application options.

4. Is the application process confidential?

Yes, the application process is confidential. Information about a student’s eligibility is kept private, and schools do not share this information with other students or parents.

5. What documentation is required to support the application?

The application may require documentation to support income information. This could include pay stubs, documentation of participation in assistance programs, or other income-related documents. Check the application form for specific requirements.

6. Can I apply for the NSBP at any time during the school year?

Yes, applications are accepted throughout the school year. Families can apply at any time, especially if their financial situation changes. However, it’s recommended to apply early in the school year to ensure timely processing.

7. What happens if my child’s eligibility status changes during the school year?

If there are changes in the household’s financial situation, families should contact the school’s nutrition services department. Adjustments to eligibility can be made, and it’s important to keep the school informed to ensure accurate meal benefits.

8. Can my child receive free meals without submitting an application?

Certain students may be categorically eligible for free meals based on participation in other assistance programs. These students may not need to submit a Free and Reduced-Price Meal Application.

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9. What types of meals are provided through the NSBP?

The NSBP offers balanced and nutritious meals, including breakfast and lunch, that meet federal nutrition standards. These meals aim to provide essential nutrients for students’ health and well-being.

10. How can I contact the school for more information about the NSBP?

For more information or assistance, contact the school’s nutrition services department or speak with designated staff members. They can provide details about the program, application process, and eligibility criteria.

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