Posted: Mon, 09/19/2011 - 10:13am Updated: Thu, 07/13/2017 - 4:00pm

The National School Lunch Act, passed by Congress in 1948, is the legislative forerunner of all child nutrition programs in existence today. The Act signed into law by President Truman in 1946 brought into being the National School Lunch Program. Pursuant to this act, the Department of Agriculture provides states with general and special cash assistance and donations of foods acquired by the Department of Agriculture to help schools in serve children nutritious lunches each school day. In 1966 the Child Nutrition Act expanded the program to include breakfast.

Legislation passed in 1968 authorized funds for food service for some summer programs and extended the breakfast program. In 1969, legislation funded the free lunch program allowing for higher reimbursement rates. Amendments to the National School Lunch Act and the Child Nutrition Act in 1970 provided for special assistance to states based on family income.

In 1975 the National School Lunch Act extended eligibility to include residential child care institutions.

Description of Programs:

National School Lunch Program (NSLP) is a federal entitlement program open to public and nonprofit private schools and residential child care institutions. Lunch is available to all children at participating schools, and the meals must meet specific nutritional requirements to receive federal funds.

Besides cash reimbursement, schools are entitled to receive commodity foods. The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) provides two types of commodities to schools in the lunch program: (1) entitlement commodities, based on the number of meals served; and (2) bonus commodities that they have acquired through the price support and surplus removal program. The State of Indiana is the state distributing agency.

The USDA designed the School Breakfast Program (SBP) to meet the needs of children who arrive at school hungry. Children seldom make up nutrients missed at breakfast at other meals. In 1993 the General Assembly enacted legislation that requires schools that have 25 percent or more of their enrollment eligible for free or reduced-price meal benefits to offer the breakfast program.

Through the Special Milk Program (SMP) schools and camps receive reimbursement for milk served to children. The program sponsors must agree to use the reimbursement to lower the prices that children have to pay for milk and to serve free milk to children eligible under USDA guidelines.