More than Just School Lunch! The Multipurpose Family Income Form: Your Questions Answered.
The start of school means getting to know new schools, teachers, and routines, attending back-to-school nights, and, of course, filling out lots of paperwork! One form that is especially important for schools to get from families by September 15, 2017, is called the "Multipurpose Family Income Form." This form needs to be submitted each year for every SFUSD student and can be submitted online (click here) or by filling out a paper form available at your child's school office.
Some people have heard that it is only necessary to fill out this form if you want your child to qualify for free or reduced-price school lunch. The truth is that it is important for EVERY family to fill out this form because doing so helps bring much needed additional money and services to your child's school and to SFUSD.
SFUSD receives funding from the state and federal governments to support the needs of low income students. For each student who qualifies for free or reduced price meals, our district receives thousands of additional dollars in funding. Studies show that many eligible students, in particular middle school and high school students, do not complete this form each year, leaving hundreds of thousands of dollars in funding for SFUSD on the table. Even a small increase in eligible forms collected results in significantly more money to support our schools and students.
What is the Multipurpose Family Income Form?
This form collects basic information about your student so SFUSD can determine his or her eligibility for free or reduced-price breakfast, lunch, and dinner and also so that schools can qualify to receive extra money and programs. You may have heard this form referred to in the past as the "School Meal Application Form" or "School Lunch Form." The name has changed because it is really about more than school lunches.
What if my child doesn't want to eat school lunch? Why should I fill out the form?
Even if your child chooses to bring their own lunch, or goes to a school where all students receive free lunch, filling out the form is very important! It ensures that your school gets all of the funding and benefits available to support teachers and students. Also, even if your child does not eat school lunch, students who qualify for free lunch also can receive other benefits like:
- Fee waiver for afterschool programs
- Free Muni passes
- Discounts for your family on utilities and internet service
- Reduced fees for SAT and ACT tests and college applications
How does filling out the Multipurpose Family Income Form help my school?
- Schools may become eligible for money to fund afterschool programs.
- Schools get more money in their budgets to support students.
- SFUSD qualifies to receive more money per student from the state and federal government which they can pass on to schools.
- Middle schools with high return rates may also help their feeder elementary schools qualify for free afterschool snacks, dinners, and on-site summer meals.
Help! The online form is confusing!
Here are a few tips we have picked up that might help if you are having trouble with the online form:
- San Francisco Unified School District not SFUSD: When you are prompted to enter the name of your school district, you need to spell it out.
- Student ID: This number, also called the "HO number," can be obtained from your school office or by looking at any prior report card your student has received. When you enter the number, you shouldn't include the letters "HO"—just the number. Submitting this number on the form is not required unless you are signing up to make school lunch payments online.
- Income information: Some parents have asked if they need to provide this information if they know that they are not eligible for free or reduced-price meals. The online form does require that families enter income. This information is not shared, and is required for those seeking free or reduced price meal eligibility. However, a family that does not wish to be considered for eligibility may request a paper form at the school office, complete student information in step 1, write "do not qualify" in the first box in step 3, and then complete the name, signature, and date lines in step 6.
- Last 4 digits of Social Security Number: If you don't have a social security number or don't want to submit the last 4 digits of your social, you can check the box that says "don't have one" and still be eligible for free or reduced-price lunch
Is the Information I Submit Confidential?
The information you submit on the Multipurpose Family Income Form cannot be shared by SFUSD Student Nutrition Services.
- Personal information submitted on the form is not shared with the state or federal government: only the number of students who qualify for free or reduced lunch is shared.
- Principals and teachers are not told which students qualify for free or reduced lunch benefits.
- SFUSD does not share information with other organizations that provide benefits. But if your child does qualify for free or reduced-price lunch, you may use the eligibility form provided by SFUSD to qualify for other benefits through providers like PG&E and Comcast.
- If your child qualifies and chooses to eat lunch in the cafeteria, the breakfast and lunch process is the same as a student who is paying full price.
Why are there different payment systems for Elementary, Middle, and High School?
All schools now allow families to deposit funds online to pay for school lunches and milk. While most elementary school continue to use the MyPaymentsPlus service, most middle and high schools have transitioned to a different payment service called SchoolCafe. If your student had a balance in the MyPaymentsPlus system, that balance will automatically be transferred to SchoolCafe if your student's school has switched to that system. Make sure to switch any recurring deposits you have set up to the new system.
What if I still have questions?
If you run into any problems, you can always contact the staff at Student Nutrition Services for individual assistance. You can reach them by calling (415) 749-3604. Additional contact information is here.
We have also put together a short "Frequently Asked Questions" flyer in English, Spanish and Chinese. Please share with your school communities!