Information about applying for and administering the National School Lunch Program (NSLP).
What is the National School Lunch Program?
The National School Lunch Program is a federally funded program that assists schools and other agencies in providing nutritious lunches to children at reasonable prices. In addition to financial assistance, the program provides donated commodity foods to help reduce lunch program costs. The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) is responsible for overseeing the program nationally. In California, the program is administered by the California Department of Education (CDE), Nutrition Services Division.
What are the benefits of participating in the program?
For children, the National School Lunch Program provides a nutritious meal that contains one-third of the recommended dietary allowance of necessary nutrients. For parents, the program offers a convenient method of providing a nutritionally balanced lunch at the lowest possible price. For schools, the program enhances children’s learning abilities by contributing to their physical and mental well being. Studies have shown that children whose nutritional needs are met have fewer attendance and discipline problems and are more attentive in class.
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What type of lunch must be offered?
Please see our School Menu Planning Options page for meal pattern information and our Meal Patterns and Menu Planning page for complete information.
What is involved in operating a National School Lunch Program?
The lunch program must be open to all enrolled children. Free or reduced price meals must be provided to those children who qualify for such benefits according to specified family size and income standards. Agency staff must verify income on a percentage of those children receiving free or reduced price lunches to confirm their eligibility. Records must be kept to document that the lunch program follows all federal and state rules and regulations. Some of the records that must be kept are:
- Meal production records and inventory records that document the amounts and types of food used.
- The number of lunches served each day, by site and by category (free, reduced price, and full price).
- Applications submitted by families for free and reduced price meals, by site, and a description of the follow-up actions taken to verify eligibility.
- Records of income, expenditures, and contributions received.
The CDE periodically conducts a comprehensive review of each agency’s lunch program. Those agencies that annually receive $500,000 or more in federal funds (from all sources) must also be audited each year.
How do we get paid?
The National School Lunch Program is operated on a reimbursement basis, with agencies paid on the number of meals served. Agencies submit a monthly reimbursement claim form, available on the CDE fiscal Nutrition Services-School Nutrition Program Web page, to the CDE. After the Department reviews the form, the claim is sent to the State Controller’s Office, where the check is issued. Agencies typically receive reimbursement within four to six weeks after submitting the reimbursement claim form.
Agencies that participate in the program are reimbursed from two sources: the USDA and the State of California. State reimbursement is paid for all free and reduced price meals. Federal reimbursement is paid for all free, reduced price, and paid meals. Visit our Rates, Eligibility Scales, and Funding page for current rates.
What types of agencies may participate?
Public and private nonprofit schools are eligible to participate in the National School Lunch Program. Also eligible are public and private nonprofit licensed residential child care institutions (e.g., group homes, juvenile halls, orphanages).
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Where can we get assistance?
Nutritionists and program staff from the CDE are available to provide free technical assistance and guidance on how to operate a National School Lunch Program. Assistance is available on such topics as menu planning, proper food storage and preparation, record keeping and reporting, and clarifying federal and state regulations. Visit the School Nutrition Program (SNP) Primer Web page for resources, materials, and technical assistance in the administration and operation of the SNP.
Whom do we contact?
Please see the county list of School Nutrition Programs (SNP) specialists in the Download Forms section of the Child Nutrition Information and Payment System (CNIPS). You may also contact the SNP Unit Secretary by phone at 916-322-1450 or 800-952-5609.
The Wordware mission with Lunch Cashier system for School District ‘s is to actively contribute to the health of children, district staff, lunch cafeteria staff, students and other eligible customers by preparing, marketing and food service cafeteria software application.. Nutritious meals will be offered at a free and reduced price for eligible students while maintaining a financially accountable program.
Wordware Lunch Cashier system assists with your staff and parents to the new lunchroom software and is always here to help with any questions that may come up encounter while the process or after implementation Schools quickly learned how helpful our team is from the beginning and they are pleased with the technical support being provided by wordware’s experienced and dedicated technical staff. Wordware Support Team set up the software for the schools and provide training to your school staff up to the level they needed to learn the ins and outs of our school cafeteria software. From the launch of the new software, School Food Service Directors, was happy that Wordware Lunch Cashier system would be an excellent fit for the children in their school.
“The implementation team and trainers did a great job getting us set up and ready for the first day of school,” say many of our valuable customers. Furthermore, their Staff have not encountered any problems, but they called for general questions. Customer care representative attends the phones calls promptly and guide them with confidence in using the lunchroom management software than before. They all are extremely satisfied that with the of wordware customer support team.
“There are many reasons why using Wordware for our lunch software has made my job easier. The remote support and ticket system have been a life saver on many occasions. The Direct Certification is simplified and the Free and Reduced timeline has kept me on track. The upgrade to the LCS1000 Mayflower has everything I need on the family dashboard for quick and easy reference. There are letter templates that can be customized by you and the numerous reporting options available are a tremendous help in documenting the daily and monthly transaction activities.” – Jean Erd, School District of Menomonee Falls
The Lunch Cashier System by Wordware, Inc. is a complete, affordable, user-friendly meal accounting system for schools, including back-office and point-of-sale management software. Lunch Cashier System is one of the Top Food Service Management Software. They provide comprehensive solutions to both school administration and food service staff. Computerized Lunch Program for school cafeterias, State and Federal reporting. Parents only need to send lunch money to one family account for all family members participating in the lunch program.
Using a computerized dietary-intake survey program and serving-size aids, interviewers are able to help volunteers recall their dietary intakes. (USDA-ARS photo taken by Stephen Ausmus)
March is National Nutrition Month. Throughout the month, USDA will be highlighting results of our efforts to improve access to safe, healthy food for all Americans and supporting the health of our next generation.
The U.S. food supply is abundant, but many consumers are experiencing nutritional shortfalls. Some are overfed but undernourished at the same time. Observing trends in U.S. diets is possible based on food-consumption data collected during the annual “What We Eat in America/NHANES” dietary-intake survey.
The USDA Agricultural Research Service (ARS) is responsible for the consumption interview, one of several components of the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) conducted by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The dietary survey is managed by researchers at the Food Surveys Research Group in Beltsville, Md., part of the ARS Beltsville Human Nutrition Research Center.
Each year, the “What We Eat in America” computer-based dietary interview is used to ask more than 5,000 individuals nationwide about the foods and beverages they consumed. The participants’ dietary supplement intakes also are collected.
Research nutritionists then translate “what’s eaten” into “nutrients consumed.” The survey data—after analysis—provide insights into the population’s nutrient-intake status, such as overconsumption, nutritional shortfalls, healthy snacking and poor eating.
Here are some of the dietetic trends based on “What We Eat in America” survey data collected in 2011-2012.
—On average, U.S. individuals are getting only about half their daily recommended intake for dietary fiber and potassium. And well over one-third aren’t getting their recommended calcium, magnesium, vitamin C and vitamin A from foods and beverages.
—More than 90 percent are not getting their recommended vitamin D from foods and beverages. Based on supplement use tracked, about one-fourth took a supplement containing vitamin D, and more than half of women aged 60 and older took one.
—Lunch is the meal most frequently skipped. On any survey day, one in five individuals did not eat lunch.
—On a given day, more than half of individuals ate at least one food or beverage that was obtained from a restaurant. The proportion is higher for young adults. Two-thirds of those aged 20 to 39 ate food or beverage obtained from a restaurant. When consumed, restaurant foods and beverages contributed more than 40 percent of daily calories.
—Overconsumption also is a problem. Based on the survey data, individuals consumed 3,500 milligrams of sodium on a given day, which is about one-third more than the recommended maximum for adults with no known risk factors.
Essential vitamins and minerals help the body stay healthy and function properly. “What We Eat in America” data results are informative to consumers and professionals. To keep up with what’s trending based on “What We Eat in America,” visit the USDA-ARS Food Survey Research Group Web site.