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National School Lunch Program

The National School Lunch Program (NSLP) is a program in which federal money goes to public schools and nonprofit private schools in order to provide a nutritionally balance, low cost or free lunch to school children each day. The program was initiated by Harry Truman in 1946 under the National School Lunch Act. The NSLP currently operates in over 100,000 schools and residential child care institutions across the United States. Paper Masters can compose a custom written research paper on the National School Lunch Program that follows your guidelines.

School Lunch Program Today

National School Lunch Program

Those school districts and institutions that participate in the NSLP receive cash subsidies and food from the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) for each meal served. The school must then serve meals that meet federal nutrition requirements, as well as provide free or reduced cost lunches to economically eligible students. Nutritional requirements are based on the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, which specifies certain levels of fruits, vegetables and whole grains for children in grades Kindergarten through 5th Grade, 6th through 8th Grade and 9th through 12th Grade. Decisions regarding which specific meals to serve are up to the individual institutions, so long as they meet federal requirements.

Recently, changes have been proposed to the standards of the school lunch program. The following are suggested by the USDA:

  • Ensure students get fruits and vegetables every day of the week
  • Increase the amount of whole grain foods
  • Offer only fat-free or low-fat milk
  • Limit caloric intake
  • Reduce the amount of saturated fat, trans fats and sodium

Who Qualifies for the National School Lunch Program?

Children in families at or below 130 percent of federal poverty standards qualify for free meals under the program. Those families between 130 and 185 percent of the poverty line will qualify for reduced priced lunches. In 2012, more than 31.6 million children were served meals under the NSLP each day, to a cost of $11.6 billion in federal money.

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