National School Lunch Program

Food Stamps * Women Infants Children * School Meals * Summer Food Service

School Lunch Program run by Food and Nutrition Service

Agency: Department of Agriculture
Office: Food and Nutrition Service

Similar to The School Breakfast the National School Lunch Program offers cash grants to assist States to make the free and reduced-price lunches available to school children across the nation and to encourage the domestic consumption of nutritious agricultural foods.

Administered by Food and Nutrition Office of the USDA the National School Lunch Program makes grants available to each State agency to reimburse participating public and nonprofit private schools, including residential child care institutions, for lunches meeting the nutritional requirements prescribed by the Secretary of USDA that are served to all eligible children.

Who are the Beneficiaries?

All children enrolled in schools where the lunch program is operating can benefit from the National School Lunch Program meal serving. Lunch is served free to children who are determined by local educational agencies to have household income levels at or below 130 %  of local area poverty, and at a reduced price to children from households with incomes higher than 130 % but at or below 185 % of the poverty line respectively.

Such determinations are made in accordance with income eligibility guidelines prescribed by the USDA Secretary and cross-reference household income with the household size. The Secretary announces these income eligibility guidelines by July 1st each year. The statistical source used in making yearly revisions is the Federal Income Poverty Guidelines.

Children from households certified to receive Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits, the Food Distribution Program on Indian Reservations, Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) and some children in Head Start Programs are automatically eligible for free meals. Homeless children, children in certain runaway and homeless youth grant programs, migrant children and foster children are also automatically eligible for free meals.

How to Apply?

Application for National School Lunch Program meals can be made at the school your child attends at any time throughout the school year. Your school will provide you with an application upon request. The school or local education agency will process your application and issue an eligibility determination.

The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)

Check Frequently Asked Questions at the Food and Nutrition Services website.