National School Lunch Program
The National School Lunch Act, passed in 1946, established school lunch programs across the nation. The purpose of the program was to safeguard the health and well-being of the nation's children and to encourage the consumption of agricultural abundance.
The National School Lunch Program is available to any public or private nonprofit school or licensed residential child care institution. The objectives of the National School Lunch Program are to make available to all students enrolled in schools and institutions a meal during a period designated as the lunch period; to provide nutritionally adequate meals that are acceptable to students, thus reducing plate waste; to provide assistance to participants to ensure that minimum meal requirements are met; and to ensure that all programs are accountable. School districts and residential child care institutions may receive reimbursement for lunches served to enrolled students at predetermined rates established for free, reduced-price, or full-price meals each fiscal year.
In 1995, the federal government implemented regulations that require all school lunches and breakfasts to be consistent with the recommendation for the Dietary Guidelines for Americans. This rule established specific minimum standards for calories and key nutrients that meals must meet.