Expanding the Reach of Free and Reduced Benefits

Every day, your team works to ensure students have access not only to nutritious meals, but also to opportunities for a brighter, more inclusive future. A part of making that possible is the impact of free and reduced benefits, but the path to harnessing these benefits begins with reaching out to families and inspiring them to apply. Let’s explore the variety of ways to reach out to families, foster a culture of participation, and ensure that no student misses out on the benefits that can make a difference in their lives. 

1. The District’s Automated Messaging System

Your district may allow you to use their communication platform (for example, SchoolMessenger) to send out pre-made messages via email, phone calls, or possibly text.

2. Email From the Principal

A message may gain more traction if it is sent directly from their child’s school rather than the district’s food service department.

3. Offer and Promote Prizes for Applying

If the district allows, offer to enter anyone who has completed an application (even if they are denied and still paid) into a drawing. Even if they are small prizes such as gift cards to fast food joints or local stores, it would be a great motivator.

3. Provide Simple Instructions and Ample Resources

  • Keep flyers around the school with a QR code that leads to the SchoolCafé app. Details on what can go on a file are in the bullet point below.
  • In your communications, include this video to show parents and guardians how quick and easy it is to complete the form on the SchoolCafé app.
  • Provide access to the Student Eligibility Quick Card and SchoolCafé Set Up Quick Card which provides an easy way for families to understand the process. 

3. Emphasize Other Benefits That May Be Available

Families may not know benefits can go beyond school meals. Check if your community can benefit from reduced costs for academic tests, discounted athletics fees, discounted college application fees, etc. Consider creating a flier similar to this example to show parents that filling out the application has the potential to alleviate financial burdens, open doors to educational and extracurricular opportunities, and provide a sense of support to families in need. It would be even more effective to include a QR code to SchoolCafé so they can easily fill out the application on our app.

Each of these tips has been provided and used by our Customer Success Project Coordinator Alyssa Deckard. Alyssa previously served as an Assistant Director at Alief ISD and Katy ISD and has 13 years of experience in the K-12 industry. She’s had success with these strategies, and we hope they will help your district as well!