National School Lunch Program

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    The 2021-2022 National School Lunch Application will be available online starting August 4.

    Download and complete the 2021-22 WCASD NSLP Application -  Spanish 2021-22 WCASD NSLP Application


    Numerous scientific studies have suggested a strong link between child nutrition and learning in school. This supports the importance of the availability of school meals programs in improving the educational performance of our children.

    Every school day the National School Lunch Program (NSLP) serves nutritious meals to more than 26 million children nationwide. Pennsylvania served more than 167 million school lunches during the 1998-1999 school year. These healthy meals enhance our children's readiness to learn.

    How does it work? The NSLP is a federal and state reimbursement program for each meal served that meets federal requirements. All NSLP sponsors are required to offer free and reduced-price lunches to eligible children. Reimbursement rates are established annually by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). Sponsors are entitled to receive USDA commodities for each lunch they serve. The variety of commodities sponsors may receive depends on product availability and market prices.

    Who may participate? Any public school, intermediate unit, charter school, area vocational-technical or career technology school, public residential child care institution, and tax-exempt non-public school or residential child care institution may apply to be an NSLP sponsor.

    How do children qualify for free or reduced-price lunches? Children from families with incomes at or below 130% of the poverty level and children in families receiving Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) and children in families receiving food stamp benefits are eligible for free lunches. Children in families whose income is between 130% and 185% of the poverty level are eligible for reduced-price lunches.

    What are the meal requirements? To qualify for reimbursement, NSLP sponsors must meet certain requirements depending upon the menu option they have selected for their school. In the Traditional and Food-Based Menu Options, they have specific minimum requirements in four food components that consist of five food items. The components are Bread/Grains, Fruit/Vegetable, Meat/Meat Alternate and Fluid Milk. The serving sizes/amounts vary depending on the age of the students. The NuMenu and Assisted NuMenu Options are based on three menu items: an entrée, side dish, and milk.

    •1932 - Some school lunch programs received federal loans and agricultural surpluses.

    •1935 Legislation authorized the USDA to purchase surplus farm commodities and distribute them to the school lunch program. By 1939, 900,000 children in 14,000 schools participated in the program. During the late 1930's the Works Progress Administration (WPA) provided labor for cooking and serving lunches.

    •1946 - The National School Lunch Act (NSLA) permanently authorized the lunch program. It established a basic meal pattern requirement and required schools to serve lunches free or at a reduced price to children in need.

    •1949 - Commodity assistance for the NSLP was authorized to supplement price support and surplus removal programs.

    •1954 - P.L. 83-69 established the Special Milk Program (SMP) when funds from the Commodity Credit Corporation (CCC) were authorized to be used to increase fluid milk consumption among children in non-profit schools.

    •1956 - Authorization for CCC funds was increased to $75 million per year (P.L. 84-465). Eligibility expanded to include children in non-profit child care centers, settlement houses, summer camps and similar institutions.

    •1960 - P.L. 86-446 authorized funds to reimburse CCC for the SMP and raised the annual funding level to $95 million.

    •1962 - Funds for free and reduced-price lunches were first authorized for schools.