National School Lunch Program


To assist States, through cash grants and food donations, in providing a nutritious nonprofit lunch service for school children and to encourage the domestic consumption of nutritious agricultural commodities.

General information about this opportunity
Last Known Status
Program Number
Federal Agency/Office
Food and Nutrition Service, Department of Agriculture
Type(s) of Assistance Offered
A - Formula Grants
Program Accomplishments
Fiscal Year 2016 Current estimate for FY 2016 is 5.43 billion lunches and snacks served. In FY 2016, 5.26 billion lunches and snacks were served in the NSLP, slightly more than the 5.23 billion served in FY 2015.
Fiscal Year 2017 5.26 billion lunches and snacks served.
Fiscal Year 2021 The total number of school lunches and snacks served was 1.63 billion.
Fiscal Year 2022 The total number of school lunches and snacks served is estimated to be 5.24 billion.
Fiscal Year 2023 The total number of school lunches and snacks served is projected to be 5.59 billion.
Fiscal Year 2024 The anticipated total number of school lunches and snacks served is 5.03 billion
Richard B. Russell National School Lunch Act, as amended, 42 U.S.C. 1751, 1760, 1779
Who is eligible to apply/benefit from this assistance?
Applicant Eligibility
States, including the District of Columbia and U.S. Territories, as applicable, may apply to administer the National School Lunch Program and work in collaboration with public and nonprofit private schools and other institutions, such as residential child care institutions, to provide nutritious lunches for children. All participating schools and institutions must agree to operate a nonprofit food service that is available to all children regardless of race, sex (including gender identity and sexual orientation), color, national origin, age, or disability.
Beneficiary Eligibility
All children enrolled in schools where this program is operating may receive a lunch daily. Eligibility for free, reduced-price, or paid lunches is determined based on the household income and size. Lunch is available free to children who are determined by the local education agency to have household income levels at or below 130 percent, and at a reduced price rate to children from households with incomes higher than 130 but at or below 185 percent of the Federal poverty line. Lunch is available at the paid rate to children who are not eligible for free and reduced-price meals. The Secretary prescribes the income eligibility guidelines for free and reduced-price meals by July 1. These guidelines are revised annually according to the Federal Income Poverty Guidelines. Children from households certified to receive benefits through the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), Food Distribution Program on Indian Reservations, or Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, and children in Head Start programs are automatically eligible for free meals. Homeless children, children in certain runaway and homeless youth grant programs, migrant children, and foster children are automatically eligible for free meals. All reimbursable meals served at the free, reduced-price, and paid categories get cash assistance.
Applicant organizations must furnish evidence of nonprofit status. Costs will be determined in accordance with USDA Uniform Federal Assistance Regulations.
What is the process for applying and being award this assistance?
Pre-Application Procedure
Preapplication coordination is required. This program is eligible for coverage under E.O. 12372, "Intergovernmental Review of Federal Programs." An applicant should consult the office or official designated as the single point of contact in his or her State for more information on the process the State requires to be followed in applying for assistance, if the State has selected the program for review. School food authorities must submit a written application to the State agency for any school in which it desires to operate the lunch program. At the local level, households may apply for free or reduced price meals under the lunch program by submitting an application furnished by the Food and Nutrition Service (FNS), the State agency, or the School Food Authority, as applicable.
Application Procedure
2 CFR 200, Uniform Administrative Requirements, Cost Principles, and Audit Requirements for Federal Awards applies to this program. Schools in all States apply to the State education agency, unless the State is approved for a waiver to designate an alternate agency. Appropriate forms may be obtained from the administering agency.
Award Procedure
The State agency reviews the written application submitted by a school food authority/school or a residential child care institution and, upon determination of eligibility, makes a written agreement with the school or institution for participation in the lunch program.
Contact the headquarters or regional location, as appropriate for application deadlines
Approval/Disapproval Decision Time
Effective upon approval by the State agency or FNS regional office as applicable.
Not applicable.
Permanent, amended as necessary.
How are proposals selected?
Not applicable.
How may assistance be used?
Federally appropriated National School Lunch Program funds are available to each State agency to reimburse participating public and nonprofit private schools, of high school grades or under, including residential child care institutions, for providing nutritious lunches to children. Funds are also available to reimburse schools for snacks served to children enrolled in eligible after school care programs. The meals offered must meet specific nutrition standards in order to be reimbursable. The rates of reimbursement are adjusted on an annual basis to reflect changes in the Food Away From Home series of the Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers. All participating schools must agree to serve free and reduced price meals to eligible children. Please refer to regulations: 7 CFR Part 210 -- National School Lunch Program, 7 CFR Part 235 -- State Administrative Expense, and 7 CFR Part 245—Free and Reduced Price Eligibility.
What are the requirements after being awarded this opportunity?
Not applicable.
Audits may be conducted less frequently under conditions specified in OMB Circular No. A-133.
Schools/school food authorities must maintain full and accurate records of their nonprofit food service operation, including --but not limited to-- records pertaining to finances, the price of paid lunches in relation to food costs, menu planning and production, and meal counting and claiming. School food authorities must make these records available to the State agency for review.
Other Assistance Considerations
Formula and Matching Requirements
Statutory formula is not applicable to this assistance listing.

Matching is voluntary. 30%. As specified in Section 7 of the National School Lunch Act, State revenue matching must be not be less than 30 percent of the funds received by the State agency under section 4 of the National School Lunch Act beginning in the 1980-81 school year.

This program has MOE requirements, see funding agency for further details. Additional Information: See funding agency for further details.
Length and Time Phasing of Assistance
For the period covered by the agreement on a fiscal year basis. Method of awarding/releasing assistance: Letter.
Who do I contact about this opportunity?
Regional or Local Office
See the Food and Nutrition Service Regional Offices at
Headquarters Office
Melissa Rothstein
1320 Braddock Place
Alexandria, VA 22314 US
Phone: 703-305-2054
Website Address
Financial Information
Account Identification
(Formula Grants) FY 22$21,637,497,000.00; FY 23 est $15,404,530,000.00; FY 24 est $16,427,651,000.00; FY 21$5,581,000,000.00; FY 20$12,507,478,000.00; FY 19$12,091,834,000.00; FY 18$13,133,155,000.00; FY 17$12,302,521,000.00; FY 16$12,259,688,000.00; -
Range and Average of Financial Assistance
State grants vary according to participation in this program.
Regulations, Guidelines and Literature
Program regulations on operational requirements are codified at 7 CFR Parts 210, and 7 CFR 245 for free and reduced price meal eligibility. Other information is on the FNS Web site at
Examples of Funded Projects
Not applicable.


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