The National School Lunch Program

School lunch is critical to student health and well-being, especially for low-income students—and ensures that students have the nutrition they need throughout the day to learn.

Research shows that receiving free or reduced-price school lunches reduce food insecurity, obesity rates, and poor health. In addition, the new school meal nutrition standards are having a positive impact on student food selection and consumption, especially for fruits and vegetables.

School Lunch Participation:

Reduces Food Insecurity

Improves Dietary Intake

Positively Impacts Health and Obesity Rates

Meeting Children’s Nutritional Needs Leads to a Better Learning Environment

The National School Lunch Program (NSLP) is the state’s second-largest food and nutrition assistance program behind SNAP. NSLP makes it possible for all school children in the Maine to receive a nutritious lunch every school day. The vast majority of our schools — approximately 95 percent — participate in the program, providing meals to more the 187,000 children in Maine Public Schools. The NSLP is a federally assisted meal program operating in public and nonprofit private schools and residential child care institutions. It provides nutritionally balanced, low-cost or free lunches to children each school day. School districts and independent schools that choose to take part in the lunch program get cash subsidies and USDA foods from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) for each meal they serve. In return, they must serve lunches that meet Federal requirements, and they must offer free or reduced-price lunches to eligible children. School food authorities can also be reimbursed for snacks served to children through age 18 in afterschool educational or enrichment programs.