The National School Lunch Program (NSLP) and School Breakfast Program (SBP) are federally funded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). The purpose of the school nutrition programs is to provide nutritionally balanced, low-cost or free meals to children each school day.
Each year, USDA sets rates to cover the cost of free and reduced meals, as well as some additional support for paid meals. Each state is also required to provide a certain matching amount based on a rate set in the 1980’s. Many states provide additional reimbursement on top of the matching requirement, which can range from per meal reimbursements, to salary support, to general funds to assist with program operations. It is up to each state if participation in these programs is optional or mandated resulting in diverse circumstances. According to the findings, 19 states require their schools provide a lunch with five of those mandating the lunch be NSLP. For breakfast, 29 states have some requirement for providing the meal with 12 mandating the federal program.
This report is a comprehensive summary of each State’s mandates and financial support with an additional chart for brief reference. The information reflected in this document is to the best of SNA’s knowledge and subject to change.