School Age Students

Congress first passed the National School Lunch Act in 1948. Based on the act's provisions, the USDA provides states with cash assistance and donations of commodity foods to help schools serve children nutritious lunches. These lunches must meet specific nutritional requirements to receive reimbursements.

In 1966, the Child Nutrition Act expanded to include breakfast, and in 1968 the act extended the breakfast program and authorized funds for some summer programs. In 1993, legislation required that schools have 25 percent or more of their enrollment eligible for free or reduced-price meals offered at the breakfast program.

Amendments to the National School Lunch Act and the Child Nutrition Act in 1970 provided special assistance to states based on family income. In 1975, the National School Lunch Act extended eligibility to include residential childcare institutions.

Additional programs, such as the Special Milk Program, have been enacted to enhance nutrition programs by providing reimbursement for free and reduced-cost provision of nutritious foods to children in schools and camps. In 2010, the Healthy Hunger Free Kids Act was passed, which provides significant changes in school meals.

This historic piece of legislation enhances the nutritional quality of food served in school-based and preschool settings, expands the Afterschool Meal Program to all 50 states, supports improvements to direct certification for school meals and makes "competitive foods" offered or sold in schools more nutritious.