Maine made history last year by making school breakfast and lunch available to all students, free of charge, regardless of their family’s income.

However, in order for Maine schools to continue to receive important state and federal funding to support education, nutrition and enrichment programs, families still need to fill out a School Meal Benefit Form to determine need in their school district.

In addition, by completing the School Meal Benefit Form, some families may qualify for extra grocery benefits through the Pandemic EBT program. Families can learn more about Pandemic EBT at feedkids.me.

Schools are distributing the forms to families with the request that they be filled out and returned.

“Even though school breakfast and lunch are now free for all Maine students, it is still very important that all families fill out their school meal benefit form to help their school access important state and federal funding,” Jane McLucas, director of Child Nutrition with Maine Department of Education, said in a press release issued by the nonprofit organization Full Plates Full Potential.

Data submitted through the School Meal Benefit Form helps determine the amount of state and federal funding a district receives every year, as well as whether a school can offer free meals to students after school and during the summer.

Additionally, any family with school-age children and household income at or below 185% of the federal poverty line may also be eligible to receive grocery benefits through the Pandemic EBT program. Most families can fill out the form at nlappscloud.com/ and should contact their school district with any questions.

“Maine is leading the nation in providing school meals at no cost to all students, but unfortunately that is causing confusion around whether or not families still need to complete household income paperwork for their school,” says Anna Korsen, advocacy and implementation director with Full Plates Full Potential. “That’s why we’ve teamed up with partners across the state to spread the word to families that filling out a School Meal Benefit Form is more important than ever.”

Full Plates Full Potential and partners created a toolkit of free outreach materials in English, Somali, Arabic, Spanish, French, Vietnamese, Khmer, Acholi, Kinyarwanda, Kirundi and Portuguese available at fullplates.org/toolkit/ for anyone interested in helping get the word out to families. The toolkit includes posters, newsletter templates and social media graphics.

There is also a PSA video on Youtube that can be shared with communities, and Full Plates Full Potential’s social media channels are another resource for sharing content related to this effort.

“We are asking for everyone’s help in this effort; please spread the word in your communities,” Korsen said.

State partners in the effort include Maine Department of Education, Maine Department of Health and Human Services, Maine SNAP-Ed, Let’s Go! 5210, and Maine School Nutrition Association. This project was funded by No Kid Hungry.