When the nation saw that American men were being rejected for World War II military service because of diet-related health problems, Harry S. Truman signed the National School Lunch Act on June 4, 1946 and established a federal program to help feed our nation’s school children. Truman saw the National School Lunch Act as “a measure of national security, to safeguard the health and well-being of the Nation’s children.” In addition to the National School lunch Act, other legislation has been adopted to support childhood nutrition such as the School Breakfast Program and Child and Adult Food Care Program.
National School Lunch Program (NSLP)
The National School Lunch Program (NSLP) is a federally assisted meal program operating in public and nonprofit private schools and residential child care institutions. It provides nutritionally balanced, low-cost or free lunches to children each school day. The program was established under the National School Lunch Act, signed by President Harry Truman in 1946. With the establishment of the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010, the USDA directed updates to the NSLP’s meal pattern and nutrition standards based on the latest Dietary Guidelines for Americans.
The new National School Lunch Program meal pattern was implemented in school year 2012-13 and allows for gradual incremental changes over a ten year period. These changes include increased availability of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains in the school menu. New dietary specifications set specific calorie limits to ensure age-appropriate meals for grades K-5, 6-8, and 9-12. Other meal enhancements include gradual reductions in the sodium content of the meals, complete elimination of trans fats, and weekly/daily minimums for grains and meat/meat alternatives. While school lunches must meet Federal meal requirements, decisions about what specific foods to serve and how they are prepared are made by local school food authorities.
School Breakfast Program (SBP)
The School Breakfast Program (SBP) is a federally assisted meal program operating in public and nonprofit private schools. It began as a pilot program in 1966 and was made permanent in 1975 with the intent that “the program be made available in all schools where it is needed to provide adequate nutrition for children in attendance.” Studies show that eating a healthy breakfast has a positive impact on a student’s academic success. To ensure well-balanced nutrition, each breakfast must provide one-fourth of the Recommended Dietary Allowance for calories, protein, iron, Vitamin A, and Vitamin C. Sweetwater UHSD serves breakfast or nutrition break (a later breakfast) at every school site with the intention to fuel the minds and bodies of each student, preparing them for success during their busy school days.
Child and Adult Care Feeding Program (CACFP)
With the continued goal to serve healthy and nutritious meals to students, Sweetwater UHSD expanded meal service to provide Supper to students on campus for after school activities through the Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP). CACFP provides aid to child and adult care institutions and family or group day care homes for the provision of nutritious foods that contribute to the wellness, healthy growth, and development of young children. Through CACFP, more than 3.3 million children receive nutritious meals and snacks each day as part of the day care they receive.
After school programs that serve meals and snacks draw children and teenagers into constructive activities that are safe, fun, and filled with opportunities for learning. The food gives them the nutrition they need to learn and grow. All after school meals and snacks are served in group settings, at no cost to the child or to the child’s parents or guardians.
For more information about CACFP, please visit the USDA website.