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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
   
 

In accordance with Federal civil rights law and U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) civil rights regulations and policies, the USDA, its Agencies, offices, and employees, and institutions participating in or administering USDA programs are prohibited from discriminating based on race, color, national origin, sex, disability, age, or reprisal or retaliation for prior civil rights activity in any program or activity conducted or funded by USDA.

Persons with disabilities who require alternative means of communication for program information (e.g. Braille, large print, audiotape, American Sign Language, etc.), should contact the Agency (State or local) where they applied for benefits. Individuals who are deaf, hard of hearing or have speech disabilities may contact USDA through the Federal Relay Service at (800) 877-8339. Additionally, program information may be made available in languages other than English.

To file a program complaint of discrimination, complete the USDA Program Discrimination Complaint Form, (AD-3027) found online at: http://www.ascr.usda.gov/complaint_filing_cust.html, and at any USDA office, or write a letter addressed to USDA and provide in the letter all of the information requested in the form. To request a copy of the complaint form, call (866) 632-9992. Submit your completed form or letter to USDA by:

(1)   mail: U.S. Department of Agriculture
Office of the Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights
1400 Independence Avenue, SW
Washington, D.C. 20250-9410;
(2)   fax: (202) 690-7442; or
(3)   email: program.intake@usda.gov

This institution 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