How to Receive Free or Reduced-Price Meals for the 2022-23 School Year
The Department of Agriculture pandemic-related waivers that allowed districts to provide free meals for all students expired at the end of the 2021-22 school year. For the 2022-23 school year, all AISD students will dine at school using their meal status - free, reduced-price, or paid.
Students automatically receive free school breakfast and lunch through any of the following programs:
- Enrollment at one of the 76 AISD schools participating in the Community Eligibility Provision (CEP) program.
- The student is directly certified through state-funded benefits such as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) or Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF). Apply at www.yourtexasbenefits.com.
- The student is directly certified through foster care; migrant, homeless, or runaway programs; or Head Start or Early Head Start programs.
- Caregivers must complete the required district paperwork with their campus in order for students to automatically qualify for free meals through these programs.
If an enrolled student (pre-K [tuition and non-tuition based] through 12th grade), does not qualify through any of the programs above, we encourage families to complete a household meal benefits application to determine eligibility for free or reduced-price meals. AISD follows the Texas Department of Agriculture income guidelines to determine if a student is eligible for free or reduced-price meals.
Students not eligible for free or reduced-price meals may purchase healthy, tasty school breakfast and lunch meals at a minimal cost.
Create an Account & Apply for Free or Reduced-Price Meals
AISD encourages families with students at schools not participating in the Community Eligibility (CEP) program to complete a meal benefits application to determine eligibility for free or reduced-priced meals.
- Online applications are preferred. Families may submit online applications at www.SchoolCafe.com.
- We will provide paper applications to all schools not participating in the CEP program in August.
- We do not collect or process meal applications from students enrolled in schools participating in the CEP program. Students at these schools automatically receive free meals without any applications or documentation.
- Only one application is needed for an entire household.
- Families must complete a new application each school year.
How to Complete an Online Meal Benefits Application
- To complete an online application, caregivers must:
- Create an account at www.SchoolCafe.com.
- Add student(s) to the account. The form requires a student’s ID number; please contact your student’s school if needed.
- The meal benefits application is found under the “Eligibility Benefits” menu on your SchoolCafe dashboard.
- SchoolCafe Resources:
For the 2022-23 school year, there is no grace period for free or reduced-price meal benefits. Beginning the first day of school, unless a student is determined eligible for free meals through the CEP, state funded programs outlined above, or through a meal benefits application approval during the 2021-22 school year, they will be charged the full price for school meals until a meal benefits application is received and processed. For this reason, we encourage families to complete an online application as soon as possible after they open.
Questions about meal applications? Please call Food Service at 512-414-0251or send an email to FoodServiceBusinessSupport@austinisd.org.
Breakfast - Paid (All Levels): $1.50
Breakfast - Reduced-Price (All Levels): $0.30
Breakfast - Adult/Guest: $2.75
Lunch - Elementary School - Paid: $3.15
Lunch - Middle & High School - Paid: $3.25
Lunch - Reduced-Price (All Levels): $0.40
Lunch - Adult/Guest: $4.50
Caregivers may set à la carte snack restrictions on their SchoolCafé account or by contacting the café manager at their student’s school.
Prepayments & Refunds
How can caregivers access their child’s meal account?
- To view balances or add money online to a meal account, a SchoolCafé account must be created by visiting www.schoolcafe.com. We also accept cash payments during normal operating hours in the cafeteria.
- SchoolCafé Step-by-Step Guide (English / Spanish)
- Once an account is created, the SchoolCafé mobile application can be downloaded on Apple and Android devices.
- Through SchoolCafé, parents and guardians can make payments, view purchase history, receive low balance alerts, apply for meal benefits, submit verification paperwork and access school menus.
- Online payments are subject to a processing fee.
How do caregivers request a refund for funds on a student meal account?
- Food Service will not provide cash refunds at this time.
- All refunds will be issued by check. This may take 4-6 weeks to be received by USPS mail.
- Refunds are only issued to the student's caregiver listed as the first contact on a student’s file with the school or a person that the Food Service department can verify has recently made a payment into the student's account through SchoolCafé.
Caregivers may request a refund one of the following ways:
- Online at www.schoolcafe.com - Select the "Donate or Request Unused Funds" option below the student's information.
- If a caregiver has never made a payment through SchoolCafé, the system will not allow a refund request to be submitted.
- By email, to email@example.com.
- The e-mail address used in the form is checked to see if it matches the primary e-mail for that student or has been used in SchoolCafé.
- Include student's name, school attending, caregiver name, and the address to which the refund should be sent in the email
- By phone, calling Food Service at 512-414-0251.
- We will request the student's name, school attending, caregiver name, and the address to which the refund should be sent during the phone call.
If students exhaust their meal accounts, they may charge meals at any meal service as follows:
- Students in elementary and middle school may charge up to three meals.
- Students in high school may charge up to two meals.
- Students may not charge á la carte items.
Once the charge limit is reached, if the account is not replenished, the student shall receive a courtesy meal. There is no limit to the number of courtesy meals a student may receive.
Café staff will work with campus administration to identify students’ eligibility for free or reduced-price meals.
Notification of Low and Negative Balance and Collection of Funds
AISD shall notify the household of a student with a low or negative meal balance and request payment by letter and email. Automatic phone calls shall be administered no more than once per week.
Payment of Delinquent Meal Charge Debt
Donated funds received throughout the year, when available, will be used to offset negative account balances. At year end, activity or other local funds are used to offset negative account balances.