Low-Cost Meals For Children
This article will go over important information about food and nutrition services available to children. Keep reading below to learn about one of the most important programs in the country.
National School Lunch Program
The National School Lunch Program (NSLP) is in nearly 100,000 public and nonprofit schools (grades PK through 12th grade). It’s also found in other child care programs. According to the website, the NLSP offers free to low-cost meals to 29.6 million children every school day, at a total cost of $14.2 billion in 2019.
In 2020, NSLP participation dipped slightly due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Average participation for this year was around 22.6 million with a total cost of $10.4 billion. The USDA offered waivers that allowed for a wider range of people to participate in the Seamless Summer Option (SSO).
Food and Nutrition Service (FNS)
The USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service operates the NSLP and reimburses schools and child care programs that take part in the NSLP. Any student in a participating school can get an NSLP lunch, as long as they meet the following criteria:
- At or below 130% of the Federal poverty line
- Between 130 and 185% of the Federal poverty line can get a reduced-price lunch
- Above 185% of the Federal poverty line can get a low-cost full-price lunch
More Info On NSLP Meals
For the year 2020, over 75% of all NSLP meals were distributed at a reduced price or fee, which was almost a 3% increase from the previous year. The research shows that the NSLP and other USDA Child Nutrition Programs reduce their overall food insecurity.
Meals provided by the NSLP must meet a minimum Federal nutrition standard. These standards are detailed in the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010. Legislation was also passed to give an extra six cents per meal to schools that served meals that met these federal standards. The Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act also created a program called the Community Eligibility Provision, which allows high-poverty schools to offer free meals to all students.
A Healthier Future
The National School Lunch Program is the nation’s second-largest food and nutrition assistance program. For families that meet the requirements, this program can play a vital role in getting children healthy and fresh meals every day at school.