School Lunch Program Fact Sheet


Start a Program

  1. Get answers to your questions about the program (including program news, forms and applications)
  2. Contact Heidi Dupuis, Oregon Department of Education
  3. Still have questions? Contact Partners for a Hunger-Free Oregon:  Marcella Miller, (503) 595-5501, ext. 307.

About the Program

The National School Lunch Program has been serving children nationwide since Congress passed the 1946 National School Lunch Act in response to widespread childhood malnutrition. The program aims to provide nutritious food to school aged children and support food prices by channeling farm surpluses into the school food system. The program is administered at the Federal level by USDA and at the State level by the Oregon Department of Education.

Free and Reduced Price Meals

Children whose families have income at or below 130% of the federal poverty level can get free meals, and those between 130-185% FPL can receive reduced price meals.


  • Federal entitlement program providing schools cash subsidies for low-cost, healthy meals
  • Meals must meet federal nutrition guidelines
  • Funds may be used to cover food, administration and staffing costs
  • Participating schools also can receive donated commodity food from the USDA

Benefits to Students

  • Access to a balanced, nutritious lunch that includes whole grains, fruits, vegetables and milk
  • Improved academic performace, concentration and fewer behavioral problems
  • Participation in the program can assist in developing good eating habits

Benefits to Schools and Programs

  • Cash reimbursements to schools
  • Wellness policies to help schools address obesity problems and promote physical activity

How the Program Works

Eligibility Requirements

All public and private non-profit schools students through grade 12, and Residential Child Care Institutions (RCCI) can participate in NSLP.

Participation allows schools to receive cash subsidies for each breakfast, lunch or snack served. In return, programs serve meals consistent with USDA nutrition standards and are monitored by a local state agency (Oregon Department of Education in Oregon).


Current reimbursement rates.