Children are the future of America and their well-being is the nation’s responsibility. This is why the federal government has introduced the National School Lunch Program (NSLP) that provides healthy and nutritious meals to the children at reduced prices. For those who can’t afford it, the meal is free of cost.
Before we get down to what the program is all about, let’s have a sneak peek at the history of the National School Lunch Program (NSLP). The program was initiated under Richard B. Russell National School Lunch Act in 1946. President Harry Truman signed the act into law. Since then, millions of children have participated and benefitted from the program.
In this article, we will also brief you on all the important details about this program so that if you want, you can also push your children to participate in it. However, for that, you will need to check if your child is eligible or not.
Overview of National school lunch program (NSLP)
The United States Department of Agriculture administers the National School Lunch Program. However, on the state level, the state agencies are responsible to ensure that the program runs smoothly. The state agencies ensure that every participating child gets access to healthy meals.
Therefore, whichever state you belong to, if you are reading this, know that the rules and eligibility criteria are the same for every state. It’s just for your convenience, and the government’s accessibility that you are required to consult your state’s agency for your child’s participation.
How does NSLP work?
The National School Lunch Program (NSLP) is a federally administered program, and all the public schools and the private non-profit school can become a part of the program. Moreover, public and non-profit childcare institutions can also participate in the program.
All of these participating institutions get subsidiary cash reimbursements from USDA to provide healthy and nutritious meals to eligible children. Moreover, the institutions must ensure to provide meals that meet federal meal criteria, and the prices must be reduced, or the meals must be free of cost for each eligible child.
Other than meals, if the children are participating in approved after-school educational activities, the institution can provide them with snacks as well. In exchange, they will get reimbursement for the snacks along with the meal from the federal quota.
If you want your child to participate in the program, check the eligibility criteria below.
Eligibility criteria for the National school lunch program (NSLP)
The children are divided into categories to meet the eligibility criteria for the program. If you are wondering if your child is eligible for free meals or reduced-price meals, look no further, because we will give you all the important information in this article.
Children who are automatically eligible for free meals are the ones who are already participating in another assistance program – administered by the federal government. For example, Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, etc. Moreover, children who are homeless, migrants, runaway, or foster children are eligible to receive free meals through the National School Lunch Program (NSLP).
Apart from them, the children enrolled in the Head Start Program or pre-kindergarten program, funded by the federal government, are also eligible to receive free meals as a part of NSLP.
If a family can show that their household income is below 130% of the poverty level, the child will receive free meals.
As far as reduced-priced meals are concerned, if the family has a household income between 130% and 185% below the poverty level, the children from those families will receive reduced-priced meals. Moreover, as per the federal guidelines, the children cannot be charged more than forty cents for the meal.
Why the Schools should become a part of the National school lunch program?
Thanks to the federal assistance programs, primary education for children is not a hurdle anymore. However, the deteriorating health of children from low-income families is a cause of concern. To fight hunger and malnutrition, the American government is trying its best. However, it will not only be possible without our support.
If schools start participating in the program, not only the children will benefit from it, but the schools will also get multiple benefits. First of all, for every meal that you provide under NSLP, you get cash reimbursement from the federal government along with food packages from the USDA.
Sometimes, you may receive bonus foods from the surplus agricultural stocks. However, the amount may vary depending on the availability of food items and market prices.
Other than receiving extra USDA-sponsored food items, the schools also receive extra 6 cents for each meal as reimbursement to those institutions that follow the federally-sponsored meal plan religiously.
All in all, before we conclude this article, we would tell all our readers that the government is doing its best to win the fight against hunger and malnutrition. Now it’s our turn to help it achieve this mission. Take advantage of the program, and give your child the healthiest lifestyle that he rightfully deserves.