By Shayla Reaves

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — As families are buckling down to get ready for the school year, there is a form that families receive that they don’t always fill out, called the Application for Educational Benefits. Some may know it as the “Free and Reduced Price Lunch” Application.

Whether your child needs assistance or not, turning in this form could help their school district.

For instance, Robbinsdale Area Schools actually received an extra $1 million during the 2020-2021 school year. That’s money that can be used for hiring staff, educational materials, field trips, and anything that supports student learning.

The district is spreading the word to parents again this year. The forms started going out last week.

Katie Wahl, the nutrition services director for Robbinsdale Area Schools, says if more people fill out the forms the more information districts will have, and better funding assessments can be made.

“The educational benefits application is so much more than free meals. And, in these times when we are providing meals to everyone in our district for free, this plays a role both in family wellbeing and for everybody that comes through the door at our schools here,” Wahl said. “It really takes about three to four minutes. They access that form, they fill out their information — again, to help supply all our schools with these different services that are crucial for learning.”

The forms are needed every year and can be filled out anytime. However, families are encouraged to turn them in this fall.

Often, more families qualify than they think. In some cases, household incomes may have changed during the pandemic. Families that didn’t qualify before may qualify now.

Funding decisions are usually made mid-December.

Shayla Reaves