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School Nutrition Programs

National School Lunch Program

Numerous scientific studies have suggested a strong link between child nutrition and learning in school. This supports the importance of the availability of school meals programs in improving the educational performance of our children.
 
Every school day the National School Lunch Program (NSLP) serves nutritious meals to more than 28 million children nationwide. Pennsylvania served more than 186 million school lunches during the 2004-2005 school year. These healthy meals enhance our children's readiness to learn.
How does it work?
The NSLP is a federal and state reimbursement program for each meal served that meets federal requirements. All NSLP sponsors are required to offer free and reduced-price lunches to eligible children. Reimbursement rates are established annually by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). Sponsors are entitled to receive USDA commodities for each lunch they serve. The variety of commodities sponsors may receive depends on product availability and market prices.
 
Who may participate?
Any public school, intermediate unit, charter school, area vocational technical or career technology school, public residential child care institution, and tax exempt non-public school or residential child care institution may apply to be an NSLP sponsor.
 
How do children qualify for free or reduced-price lunches ?
Children from families with incomes at or below 130% of the poverty level, and children in families receiving Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) and children in families receiving food stamp benefits are eligible for free lunches. Children in families whose income is between 130% and 185% of the poverty level are eligible for reduced price lunches.
 
What are the meal requirements?
To qualify for reimbursement, NSLP sponsors must meet certain requirements depending upon the menu option they have selected for their school. In the Traditional and Food Based Menu Options, they have specific minimum requirements in four food components that consist of five food items. The components are Breads/Grains, Fruit/Vegetable, Meat/Meat Alternate and Fluid Milk. The serving sizes/amounts vary depending on the age of the students. The NuMenu and Assisted NuMenu Options are based on three menu items: an entrée, side dish and milk. In all menu options, the serving sizes/amounts vary depending on the age of the students.
 

School Breakfast Program

The School Breakfast Program (SBP) has been serving breakfast to school children across the nation since the pilot program began in 1966. Today, more than 8.5 million children nationwide participate in the SBP. Statewide, the participation number is over 200,000.
 
Numerous studies, including research from Harvard and Tufts Universities, have shown a direct correlation between school breakfast participation and academic performance. In addition, breakfast participation has shown to improve school attendance, students' attention spans, and performance of tasks; fewer problems with irritability, anxiety and aggression were also noted.
How does it work?
The SBP is a federal and state reimbursement program for each breakfast served that meets federal requirements. All SBP sponsors are required to offer free and reduced - price breakfasts to eligible children. Reimbursement rates are established by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) annually.
 
Who may participate?
Any public school, intermediate unit, charter school, area vocational technical or career technology school, public residential child care institution and tax exempt non-public school or residential child care institution may apply to be a SBP sponsor.
 
How do children qualify for free or reduced price breakfast?
Children from families with incomes at or below 130% of the poverty level, children in families receiving Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), or children in families receiving food stamp benefits are eligible for free breakfasts. Those children in families whose income is between 130% and 185% of the poverty level are eligible for reduced-price breakfasts.
 
What are the meal requirements?
To qualify for reimbursement, SBP sponsors must meet certain requirements depending upon the menu option they have selected for their school. In the Traditional and Food Based Menu Options, there are specific minimum requirements in three food components that consist of four food items. The three food components are Meat/Meat Alternate and/or Breads/Grains, Juice/Fruit/Vegetable and Fluid Milk as a beverage or on cereal or both. The NuMenu and Assisted NuMenu Options are based on three menu items: Fluid Milk served as a beverage or on cereal or both and two other food items except a food of minimal nutritional value. In all menu options, the serving sizes/amounts vary depending on the age of the students.

After School Snack Program

The Afterschool Snack Program (ASP) became an official part of the National School Lunch Program (NSLP) on October 1, 1998. The ASP provides snacks to children participating in eligible programs after their regular school day is completed.
How does it work?
The ASP is a federal reimbursement program established by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). The program provides reimbursement to sponsors for snacks that meet federal meal pattern requirements. The ASP must be district operated; retaining financial and management responsibilities for the program, and snacks must be claimed through the food service department
 
Who may participate?
Any school, public or private, Residential Child Care Institutions, or Boarding Schools that participates in the NSLP may participate in the ASP. The program must provide children with regularly scheduled educational or enrichment activities in a supervised environment. Organized, interscholastic athletic programs are not eligible to participate in the program.
 
How do children qualify for free or reduced price snacks?
Eligibility for the Regular ASP is based on the same income guidelines as the NSLP, which determines reimbursement in paid, free, and reduced price categories.
The Area Eligible ASP provides the snack free to all children in a qualified attendance area. A qualified attendance area is eligible for this program if the site has 50% or more of the enrolled children approved for free and reduced price meals.
 
What are the snack requirements?
To qualify for reimbursement, the ASP sponsors must meet meal pattern requirements that offer children specific amounts of food from two of four food components. One snack per child per day may be claimed for reimbursement.
The snack components are:
A serving of fluid milk; A serving of meat/meat alternate; A serving of juice, fruit or vegetable; and/or A serving of bread and/or cereal. 

Special Milk Program

The Special Milk Program (SMP) provides federal reimbursement for milk served to children in schools and child care institutions that do not participate in federal meal programs.
How does it work?
Participating schools and institutions receive reimbursement for each half-pint of fluid milk served. The milk program must be operated on a non-profit basis. The reimbursement must be used to reduce the selling price of milk to the children.
 
Who may participate?
Any school or non-profit child care institution, including summer camps and temporary shelters, may participate in the SMP provided it does not participate in a meal service program, e.g., The National School Lunch Program (NSLP). Schools that do participate in the NSLP or the SBP may participate in the SMP to provide milk to children in half-day pre-kindergarten and kindergarten programs where the children do not have access to either of the school meal programs.
 
How do children qualify for free milk?
Sponsors of the SMP have the option of offering milk free to qualifying children. Any child from a family that meets income guidelines established by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) may receive free milk.
 

Fresh Fruit & Vegetable Program

The United States Department of Agriculture Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program (FFVP) provides students with a fresh fruit or vegetable snack at school during the school day to increase their consumption of healthy foods, exposure to a variety of fruits and vegetables and promote a healthier school environment. The 2008 Farm Bill expanded the program which was previously only available to 25 schools in Pennsylvania . The number of schools selected each year is based upon federal funding. Participation is limited to elementary schools that participate in the National School Lunch Program with free and reduced eligibility rates at or above 50%. The FFVP is administered at the state level by The Pennsylvania Department of Education (PDE), the same agency that administers the National School Lunch Program (NSLP). 
  
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