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

National School Lunch – School Breakfast verification project
The primary goal of the project is to increase household response to school district verification requests in order to decrease unnecessary loss of benefits and improve verification data quality.

General information about this opportunity
Last Known Status
Program Number
Federal Agency/Office
Agency: Department of Agriculture
Office: Food and Nutrition Service
Type(s) of Assistance Offered
Program Accomplishments
Fiscal Year 2014: On an average school day in FY 2014, more than half of all school children in America were provided an NSLP lunch. At participating schools and Residential Child Care Institutions (RCCIs), approximately 57.3 percent of the enrolled students participated in the NSLP on a daily basis. In FY 2014, almost 5.0 billion lunches were served in the NSLP. Average daily participation was 30.3 million in FY 2014. In FY 2014, approximately 71.5 percent of total lunches served were provided free or at a reduced price, up from 70.5 percent in FY 2013. A total of 99,513 schools and RCCIs participated in the NSLP in FY 2014. Fiscal Year 2015: No Current Data Available Fiscal Year 2016: No Current Data Available
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
State and U.S. Territory agencies (except territories subject to the Compact of Free Association), public and nonprofit private schools of high school grade and under; public and nonprofit private residential child care institutions, except Job Corps centers, residential summer camps that participate in the Summer Food Service Program, and private foster homes. Schools and residential child care institutions that participate must agree to operate a nonprofit food service that is available to all children regardless of race, sex, color, national origin, age, or disability.
Beneficiary Eligibility
All children enrolled in schools where this program is operating may participate. Lunch is served free to children who are determined by local educational agencies to have household income levels at or below 130 percent of poverty, and at a reduced price to children from households with incomes higher than 130 but at or below 185 percent of the poverty line respectively. Such determinations are made in accordance with income eligibility guidelines prescribed by the Secretary of Agriculture and cross reference household income with household size. The Secretary announces these income eligibility guidelines by July 1. The statistical source used in making such revisions is the Federal Income Poverty Guidelines.
Children from households certified to receive Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits, the Food Distribution Program on Indian Reservations, 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 also automatically eligible for free meals.
Applicant organizations must furnish evidence of nonprofit status. Costs will be determined in accordance with USDA Uniform Federal Assistance Regulations (for FY 2016, at 2 CFR Part 200 applies to this program). 2 CFR 200, Subpart E - Cost Principles applies to this program.
What is the process for applying and being award this assistance?
Pre-Application Procedure
The application forms as furnished by the Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) or the State agency, as applicable, must be used for this program. Environmental impact information is not required for this program. 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.
Application Procedure
2 CFR 200, Uniform Administrative Requirements, Cost Principles, and Audit Requirements for Federal Awards applies to this program. OMB Circular No. A-102 applies to this program. OMB Circular No. A-110 applies to this program. Public schools in all States make application to the State educational agency unless the State applies and is approved for a waiver to designate an alternate agency. Appropriate forms may be obtained from this agency. Nonprofit private schools should also apply to the State educational agency in most States. In some States, however, the State educational agency is prohibited by statute from disbursing Federal funds to nonprofit private schools. In such instances, the application should be submitted to the alternate State agency or the appropriate FNS Regional Office.
Award Procedure
The State agency reviews the written application of a 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 program.
Contact the headquarters or regional office, as appropriate, for application deadlines.
Approval/Disapproval Decision Time
Effective upon approval by the State agency or regional office as applicable.
The State agency or regional office, as applicable is responsible for determining a school's eligibility.
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 lunches meeting the nutritional requirements prescribed by the Secretary of Agriculture, served to eligible children. Schools meeting eligibility criteria may be reimbursed for snacks served to children enrolled in eligible after school hour care programs. Participating schools are reimbursed at rates that 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.

National School Lunch – School Breakfast verification project

FNS is testing the effectiveness of alternate Local Educational Agencies’ communication protocols with households through randomized controlled trials, conducted in cooperation with the White House Social and Behavioral Science Team. The project will also provide FNS with the information necessary to assess the cost effectiveness of the interventions and allow FNS to estimate the aggregate cost of scaling successful interventions. The assistance will only be used to reimburse school district’s material costs of participation in the project. Specifically, FNS is offering to offset the extra cost of postage-paid return envelopes and a reasonable amount for color printing – expenses that many districts do not incur in their usual verification processes. To simplify payment, FNS will provide a fixed $55 for every 50 households (or fraction) that districts contact for verification. Please refer to regulations: 7 CFR Part 210 -- National School Lunch Program and 7 CFR Part 245—Free and Reduced Price Eligibility.
What are the requirements after being awarded this opportunity?
State agencies and schools file monthly reports on the number of meals served, by type, to claim program funds. School food authorities must submit final meal claims to the State no later than 60 days after the claiming month, and States must submit final program reports to FNS no later than 90 days after the claiming month. States must submit final fiscal year grant close out reports to FNS within 120 days after the end of the fiscal year to which they pertain. Annually, school food authorities must report, to their State agency, the most common charge for lunches served to children who do not qualify for free or reduced price lunches. School food authorities report the price charged at the elementary, middle and high levels, as applicable. In turn the State agency submits this information to FNS for publication. No cash reports are required. No progress reports are required. States must submit final fiscal year grant close out reports to FNS within 120 days after the end of the fiscal year to which they pertain. No performance monitoring is required.
In accordance with the provisions of 2 CFR 200, Subpart F - Audit Requirements, non-Federal entities that expend financial assistance of $750,000 or more in Federal awards will have a single or a program-specific audit conducted for that year. Non-Federal entities that expend less than $750,000 a year in Federal awards are exempt from Federal audit requirements for that year, except as noted in 2 CFR 200.503. Audits may be conducted less frequently under conditions specified in OMB Circular No. A-133.
Schools must maintain full and accurate records of their lunch programs. Such records shall be retained for a period of 3 years after the end of the fiscal year to which they pertain, except that if audit findings have not been resolved, the records shall be retained beyond the 3-year period as long as required for the resolution of audit findings. School food authorities must maintain records for State agency review relating to the average price they charge for full-price school lunches relation to the requirement for paid lunch pricing equity. In addition, school authorities must maintain records showing revenue generated by nonprogram foods (for example, a la carte items sold to students or meals sold to teachers and staff) in relation to the food costs for program and nonprogram foods.
Other Assistance Considerations
Formula and Matching Requirements
Statutory Formula: The funding formula for the general cash for food assistance phase of this program is set forth in section 4 of the Richard B. Russell National School Lunch Act, 42 U.S.C. 1753; the formula for special cash assistance is described in section 11 of the Act, 42 U.S.C.1759a. This program is funded on a performance basis. For every lunch served during the applicable fiscal year, the State receives a payment from funds made available under section 4. In addition, the State receives a payment from section 11 funds for each lunch served to a child eligible for free or reduced price lunches. The amounts of such per lunch payments are determined by "National Average Payment" (NAP) factors. The amount due the State under this program is obtained by: (1) multiplying the total number of eligible paid lunches and free and reduced price lunches served during the fiscal year by the section 4 NAP factor for lunches; (2) multiplying the number of free lunches served by the section 11 NAP factor for free lunches; (3) multiplying the number of lunches served at reduced price by the Section 11 NAP factor for reduced price lunches; (4) multiplying the total number of lunches served during the fiscal year in school food authorities which served 60 percent or more free or reduced price lunches in the second preceding school year by $ .02; and (5) adding together the four products obtained thereby. The NAP factors are prescribed by the Secretary of Agriculture in accordance with sections 4 and 11, respectively, of the Act; the numbers of lunches are obtained from programmatic reports submitted to FNS. In addition to the NAP factors, lunches certified as meeting updated meal patterns and nutrition standards receive an additional 6 cents in reimbursement. The funding formula for snacks in after school care programs is described in section 17A of the Act, 42, U.S.C. 1766a. Section 11(a)(3) of the Act requires that the NAP factors be adjusted annually, according to changes in the Food Away From Home series of the Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers; the source is the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Each State must appropriate from State revenues and use, for program purposes, an amount equal to 30 percent of the section 4 funds made available to the State in the 1980-81 school year. Also, commodity schools are eligible to receive donated commodities equal in value to the sum of section 6 and section 4 assistance rates, except that up to 5 cents of this amount may be received in cash for processing and handling commodities. In addition, commodity schools are eligible for section 11 free and reduced price meal reimbursements.
This program has no matching requirements.
This program has MOE requirements, see funding agency for further details. 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: by letter of credit.
Who do I contact about this opportunity?
Regional or Local Office
See Regional Agency Offices. See the Food and Nutrition Service Regional Offices listed in Appendix IV of the Catalog.
Headquarters Office
Cynthia Long, Food and Nutrition Service, 3101 Park Center Drive Room 628, Alexandria, Virginia 22302. Phone: 703-305-2590.
Website Address
Financial Information
Account Identification
(Formula Grants) FY 14 $11,289,685,000; FY 15 est $11,996,089,000; and FY 16 est $11,777,825,000
Range and Average of Financial Assistance
State grants vary according to participation in this program.
Regulations, Guidelines and Literature
Program regulations are codified at 7 CFR Parts 210 and 245 for free and reduced price eligibility.
Examples of Funded Projects
Not Applicable.