The National School Lunch Program is a federally assisted meal program operating in over
100,000 public and non‐profit private schools and residential child care institutions. It provided
nutritionally balanced, low‐cost or free lunches to more than 31 million children each school day
in 2012. In 1998, Congress expanded the National School Lunch Program to include
reimbursement for snacks served to children in afterschool educational and enrichment programs
to include children through 18 years of age.
The Food and Nutrition Service administers the program at the Federal level. At the State level,
the National School Lunch Program is usually administered by State education agencies, which
operate the program through agreements with school food authorities.