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Arkansas Division of Child Care and Early Childhood Education
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National School Lunch Program
What is the National School Lunch Program (NSLP)?

The National School Lunch Program is a federally assisted meal program operating in more than 99.800 public, non-profit private schools, and residential child care institutions.  It provides nutritionally balanced, low-cost or free lunches to more than 26 million children each school day.  In 1988, Congress expanded the National School Lunch Program to include reimbursement for snacks served to children in after school educational and enrichment programs to include children through 18 years old.

The Food and Nutrition Service administers the program at the federal level.  At the state level, the National School lunch Program is usually administered by state education agencies, which operate the program through agreements with school food authorities.

How does the National School Lunch Program work?
Generally, public or nonprofit private schools of high school grade or under and public or nonprofit private residential child care institutions may participate in the school lunch program.  School districts and independent schools that choose to take part in the lunch program get cash subsidies and donated commodities from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) for each meal they serve.  In return, they must serve lunches that meet federal requirements, and they must offer free or reduced price lunches to eligible children.  School food authorities can also be reimbursed for snacks served to children through age 18 in after school educational or enrichment programs.
What are the nutritional requirements for school lunches?
School lunches must meet the applicable recommendations of the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, which recommends that no more than 30 percent of an individuals calories come from fat, and less than 10 percent from saturated fat.  Regulations also establish a standard for school lunches to provide one-third of the Recommended Dietary Allowances of protein, Vitamin A, Vitamin C, iron, calcium, and calories.  School Lunches must meet Federal nutrition requirements, but decisions about what specific foods to serve and how they are prepared are made by local school food authorities.
How do children qualify for free and reduced-price lunches?

Any child at a participating school may purchase a meal through the National School Lunch Program.  Children from families with incomes below 130 percent of the poverty level are eligible for free meals.  Those with incomes between 130 percent and 185 percent of the poverty level are eligible for reduced-price meals.  For more information, contact Department of Human Services, Division of Child Care and Early Childhood Education, Special Nutrition Programs at the address below.

Children from families with incomes over 185 percent of the poverty level pay full price, though their meals are subsidized to some extent.  Local school food authorities set their own process for full-price (paid) meals, but must operate their meal services as nonprofit programs.

After school snacks are provided to children on the same income eligibility basis as school meals.  However, programs that operate in areas where at least 50 percent of students are eligible for free or reduced-price meals serve all snacks free.

National School Lunch Programs:

School Lunch

School Breakfast
Special Milk Program
After School Snack Program
For Additional Information:
Special Nutrition Programs
National School Lunch Programs
P.O. Box 1437, Slot S-155
Little Rock, AR 72203-1437
(501) 682-8869     1-800-482-5850 ext. 28869
   
 

The U.S Department of Agriculture prohibits discrimination against its customers, employees, and applicants for employment on the bases of race, color, national origin, age, disability, sex, gender identity, religion, reprisal, and where applicable, political beliefs, marital status, familial or parental status, sexual orientation, or all or part of an individual’s income is derived from any public assistance program, or protected genetic information in employment or in any program or activity conducted or funded by the Department, (Not all prohibited bases will apply to all programs and/or employment activities.)

If you wish to file Civil Rights program complaint of discrimination, complete the USDA Program Discrimination Complaint Form, found online at http://www.ascr.usda.gov/complaint_filing_cust.html ,or at any USDA office, or call (866) 632-9992 to request the form. You may also write a letter containing all of the information requested in the form.  Send your completed complaint form or letter to us by mail at U.S Department of Agriculture, Director, Office of Adjudication, 1400 Independence Avenue, S.W., Washington, D.C. 20250-9410, by fax (202) 690-7442 or email at program.intake@usda.gov .

Individuals who are deaf, hard of hearing or have speech disabilities may contact USDA through the Federal Relay Service at (800) 877-8339; or (800) 845-6136 (Spanish).

USDA is an equal opportunity provider and employer.

 
For Additional Information:

Special Nutrition Programs
P.O. Box 1437, Slot S-155
Little Rock, AR 72203-1437
(501) 682-8869     1-800-482-5850 ext. 28869