School Lunch Program

group of kids eating lunch at school

The National School Lunch Program (NSLP) provides nutritionally balanced, low-cost or free school lunches to children in public and nonprofit private schools. 

Who is eligible? 

Children in households with incomes below 130% of the federal poverty level or those receiving SNAP/Food Stamps or TANF qualify for free meals. Those with family incomes between 130% and 185% of the federal poverty level qualify for reduced-price meals. Click here to learn more about income eligibility guidelines. 

When school is out of session in the summertime, children continue to receive nutritious meals and snacks through the Summer Food Service Program.

How do I apply for free or reduced lunch?

Schools send applications home at the beginning of each school year. However, you may apply for school meals any time during the school year by submitting an application directly to your school or district. Contact your child’s school or school district directly for an application.

Are there other resources available because of COVID-19? 

The Pandemic Electronic Benefit Transfer (P-EBT) program helps families with eligible children whose access to meals or buying food has been impacted by COVID-19. CLICK HERE to learn more.  

Sources: USDA, Feeding America, NCDHHS

Last updated 9/9/2022

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Child Care & Education, Food