Skip to main content
U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government

History of the National School Lunch Program

Resource type
Resource Materials
PDF Icon NSLP Program History (163.67 KB)
Background and Development

by Gordon W. Gunderson 1

School food service programs such as we have in 1971 did not just happen over-night nor even during the past decade. Preceding today's programs is a long history of more than a hundred years of development, of testing and evaluating, and of constant research to provide the best in nutrition, nutrition education, and food service for the nation's millions of children in school.


1 Gorton W. Gunderson, a native of Wisconsin, was elected in the Fall of 1939 to represent the U S Department of Agriculture to supervise its program in Wisconsin of distributing donated commodities to establish school lunch programs. During World War II, his duties also included the administration of war food programs in the state. Upon passage of the National School Lunch Act in 1946, he was elected to administrate the school lunch program for the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction. He was also the administrator of the commodity distribution program for schools, institutions, needy households, summer camp and other eligible outlets. The Special Milk Program was inaugurated in 1954, and was added to his supervision. Mr. Gunderson retired on Dec. 31, 1969 after serving over 30 years in the development and expansion of the school food service program in Wisconsin.

Page updated: January 13, 2022