Free School Lunch Program: What is it and how to get in contact with these schools

13 Jul

With the School Nutrition Association 66th Annual National Conference just a few days away, we decided to do a blog post on the National School Free Lunch Program. This meal program operates in over 100,000 public and non-profit private schools, and residential child care institutions across the United States. This is a federally assisted program aimed at providing nutritional, balanced, affordably priced or free lunches to approximately 31,000,000 school children each day (2010). This program was expanded by Congress in 1998 to also account for reimbursement of snacks that are provided during afterschool enrichments programs.

For each meal that they serve, both school districts and independent schools who partake in the program, are eligible to receive cash subsidies and USDA foods from the US Department of Agriculture. They must also serve food and lunches that meet Federal requirements regarding dietary guidelines. For example it is recommended that no more than 30% of calorie intake come from fat and that less than 10% come from saturated fat. Additional regulations state that school lunches provide 1/3 of the recommended dietary allowance for: Iron, Calcium, Calories, Vitamin A, Vitamin C and Protein.

However, while school lunches must abide by the Federal nutrition guidelines, the decision of who the school district will buy its food from is normally decided on the local level. Therefore it is important for foodservice providers to be well educated when selling their product to the local school districts and other schools.

If you are looking for more information about the National School Lunch Program, you should look at the USDA website. And if you are a foodservice provider looking to connect with the heads of the foodservice departments at your local school district, we should talk. We have the contact information for 13,000 School Districts, 13,000 Pre-Schools, 92,000 elementary schools, and a lot more. To access this information or get a better understanding about our database, give us a call and we’d be happy to share.

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