Free School Meals for Homeless, Migrant and Foster Youth

Photograph of a teen girl holding out her plate for school lunch.

When young people are homeless and still in school, the cafeteria may be their most reliable source of nutritious meals. As a youth worker, you may or may not know this next fact: Homeless youth served by programs with Runaway and Homeless Youth Act grants from the Family and Youth Services Bureau, as well as migrant youth, foster youth, and homeless youth vouched for by their school district’s homeless liaison can qualify for free school lunches without having to fill out a single form.

The National Center for Homeless Education’s new brief,  “Access to Food for Homeless and Highly Mobile Students” (PDF, 559KB), explains what youth workers and school administrators can do to make sure young people receive the free meals they’re eligible for.

The brief also answers frequently asked questions, like can a homeless young person be kept from graduating because they haven’t paid their cafeteria bill? (The answer: No.)

The brief was published as part of the center’s Interagency Collaboration Series with support from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, the Food Research and Action Center and the National Association for the Education of Homeless Children and Youth.

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