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National School Lunch Program (NSLP) Fact Sheet

The National School Lunch Program (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 no-cost lunches to children each school day. The program was established under the Richard B. Russell National School Lunch Act, signed into law by President Harry Truman in 1946.

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FNS-101: Program Integrity

Stewardship of Federal funds is a basic expectation of American taxpayers and is critical to the ongoing success of nutrition assistance programs. FNS continuously works to detect, prevent, and minimize errors and improper payments, as well as fraud, waste, or abuse. In this way, FNS preserves public trust, enhances partner relationships, and provides excellent customer service to program participants.

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FNS-101: USDA Foods in Child Nutrition Programs

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) provides nutritious, domestically sourced and produced foods, known as USDA Foods, to Child Nutrition Programs, including the National School Lunch Program (NSLP), the Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP), and the Summer Food Service Program (SFSP). Foods include high-quality vegetables, fruits, dairy products, whole grains, lean meats, and other protein options.

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FNS-101: The Emergency Food Assistance Program

The Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP) is a program that helps supplement the diets of low-income Americans including elderly people by providing them with emergency food assistance at no cost.

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FNS-101: Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program

The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) provides nutrition assistance to eligible, low-income individuals and households via a monthly benefit on an Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) card, similar to a debit card, which can be used at authorized retailer stores to purchase food. SNAP is the largest Federal nutrition assistance program.

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FNS-101: Special Milk Program

The Special Milk Program (SMP) provides milk to children in schools, child care institutions, and eligible camps that do not participate in other Federal child nutrition programs. The SMP reimburses schools and institutions for the milk they serve. Schools participating in the National School Lunch or School Breakfast Programs may serve milk through SMP to children enrolled in half-day pre-kindergarten and kindergarten programs if those children do not have access to the breakfast or lunch meal service.

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FNS-101: Summer Food Service Program

The Summer Food Service Program (SFSP) is a federally funded, State-administered program that reimburses providers who serve free, nutritious meals to children and teens in low-income areas when school is not in session.

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FNS-101: Senior Farmers' Market Nutrition Program

The Senior Farmers’ Market Nutrition Program (SFMNP) awards grants to States, U.S. Territories, and federally recognized Indian Tribal Organizations (ITOs) to provide low-income seniors with coupons that can be exchanged for eligible foods (fruits, vegetables, honey, and fresh-cut herbs) at farmers’ markets, roadside stands, and Community-Supported Agriculture (CSA) programs.

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FNS-101: School Breakfast Program

The School Breakfast Program (SBP) provides nutritionally balanced, low-cost or no-cost breakfasts to children each school day in public and nonprofit private schools and residential child care institutions. The SBP started in 1966 as a pilot project and was made a permanent entitlement program by Congress in 1975.

Resource | Fact Sheets
FNS-101: National School Lunch Program

The National School Lunch Program (NSLP) provides nutritionally balanced, low-cost or no-cost lunches to children each school day in public and nonprofit private schools and residential child care institutions (RCCIs). The NSLP was established under the Richard B. Russell National School Lunch Act, signed into law in 1946.