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Archived News Article: Information may be out of date
March 2, 2022

School Nutrition Programs for Children

School Nutrition Programs for Children
School Nutrition Programs for Children

Want to learn more about food programs for your child in school? The National School Lunch and Breakfast Programs (NSLBP), managed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), could help!

The NSLBP give healthy meals to children as a part of their school day. In this article, you’ll learn how NSLBP works, how to receive meals, where to find contact information, and more.

What are the National School Lunch and Breakfast Programs?

The National School Lunch and Breakfast Programs (NSLBP) partner with USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service Agency to work in public schools, private schools, and childcare programs. States work with school food authorities to run the programs, which give healthy, low cost or no-cost lunches to kids each school day.

How will my child benefit from NSLBP?

The NSLBP is in public or private grade school schools (K-12). Kids who participate in these programs will receive free or reduced-price breakfasts and lunches daily during school, with some afterschool programs participating as well.

Who can receive for free or reduced price meals?

Kids are eligible to receive free or reduced price meals a few different ways:

  • They may be categorically eligible for free meals if they receive benefits from other federal programs, like the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), or if they are considered a homeless, migrant, runaway, or foster child.
  • Kids enrolled in a Head Start Program, or a similar state-funded pre-kindergarten program, are eligible to receive free meals.
  • Kids can be eligible based on household income and family size. Kids from families with incomes at or below 130 percent of the Federal poverty level are eligible for free meals.
  • Kids from families with incomes between 130 and 185 percent of the Federal poverty level are eligible for reduced price meals.

View the current Income Eligibility Guidelines to see how your child could qualify.

How do I apply for School Breakfast and Lunch Programs?

Schools send school meal applications home at the beginning of each school year. However, parents and guardians may apply for school meals for their children any time during the school year. For application information, contact your state agency.

Learn more about Nutrition Programs on

You can learn more about food and nutrition benefits on our News page. Look through the Nutrition category to view related articles or filter through the Food and Nutrition category of benefits to view specific programs. Take the Benefit Finder to find more government programs you may be eligible for.

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