National School Lunch Program

  • The National School Lunch Program is a federally assisted meal program operating in public and nonprofit private schools and residential childcare institutions. It provides Nutritionally Balanced, low-cost or free lunches to children each school day.

    The program also incorporates Wellness Policies and Smart Snacks to promote healthy eating habits and physical activity at school.

    Program Benefits

    The National School Lunch Program:

    • Enhances academic performance and behavior by ensuring that students receive the nutrition they need to stay focused
    • Improves students' nutritional intake of fruits, vegetables and whole grains.


    In FY 2020, the NSLP provided about 3.2 billion meals, 76.9 percent of which were served free or at a reduced price. This share was 2.8 percentage points more than in FY 2019. In FY 2021, the first full year of the pandemic, the program provided 2.2 billion meals, 98.9 percent of which were served free or at a reduced price. The increase in the share of meals served free or at a reduced price is in part attributable to a USDA pandemic waiver allowing for meals to be provided free of charge to students.

    In the 2022-2023 School Year, 140 participating school & charter school locations served:



    Daily Avg






    National School Lunch Resource Links