Your school may be eligible to feed all students for free under the Community Eligibility Provision (CEP). This USDA program introduced on a rolling basis in 2012 allows districts and schools in low-income areas to provide free school lunch and breakfast to all students without the burden of collecting household applications to determine eligibility for school meal programs. For students, it means they all get to eat, every day, without regard for whether there's money in their account. Foodservice professionals simply have to confirm students are taking the required components for a reimbursable meal and track the number participating. Your POS line will move much faster and no more worrying about overdue student meal accounts.
So who qualifies for the program? According to the CEP Fact Sheet, "Schools and (local educational agencies) with a minimum Identified Student Percentage (≥40 percent) in the prior school year." Identified students are those certified for free meals without the use of household applications, such as those certified through SNAP. CEP is available to all, some or a single school in a local educational agency. This page will connect you to information on CEP in your state and eligible schools/districts. If you're eligible, be sure to apply prior to the deadline and take advantage of this time-saving program next year.