All Pine River-Backus parents encouraged to file meal benefits application

Applicants who automatically qualify or don't qualify at all are still encouraged.

Echo Journal file photo
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PINE RIVER — The Pine River-Backus School District urges all parents to complete meal benefits applications, no matter their qualifications.

The Pine River-Backus School District receives title funds and compensatory benefits based on the number of applications parents fill out each year, so applications can qualify the school district for funds that help pay for student education, reduce the cost of activity fees and qualify area families for savings on some utilities or other programs.

Some may think this only goes for those who seek approval for free or reduced lunch, but all parents are encouraged to fill out applications.

"It's important for all families to fill it out, regardless of income status," said Jolene Bengtson, school district business manager.

This also pertains to those who qualify automatically for free or reduced lunch under new federal guidelines.


"They changed how people can be automatically certified," Bengtson said. "There's a direct certification notice that goes out. Families can qualify through other state agencies like SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) or other such programs. If they qualify for those programs, they can also qualify automatically for direct certification through food services."

Sometimes families that already qualify for free and reduced lunches do not feel the need to fill out an application, such as last year when all students received free lunches. That free lunch program ended with the conclusion of the 2021-2022 school year.

A failure to fill out applications can result in the school losing funding.

Those who fill out applications will receive a free T-shirt.

"If they fill out their family application on site at open houses or online, they can collect their T-shirt when they get here," Bengtson said.

All Pequot Lakes School District families are asked to fill out and submit a school meal application to help ensure that all students and their families can access key benefits.

The Pequot Lakes School District also encourages families to fill out their applications.

Travis Grimler is a staff writer for the Pineandlakes Echo Journal weekly newspaper in Pequot Lakes/Pine River. He may be reached at 218-855-5853 or

Travis Grimler began work at the Echo Journal Jan. 2 of 2013 while the publication was still split in two as the Pine River Journal and Lake Country Echo. He is a full time reporter/photographer/videographer for the paper and operates primarily out of the northern stretch of the coverage area (Hackensack to Jenkins).
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