Child Nutrition Programs


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National School Lunch Program - The National School Lunch Program is available to any public or private nonprofit school or licensed residential child care institution. The objectives of the National School Lunch Program are to make available to all students enrolled in schools and institutions a meal during a period designated as the lunch period; to provide nutritionally adequate meals that are acceptable to students, thus reducing plate waste; to provide assistance to participants to ensure that minimum meal requirements are met; and to ensure that all programs are accountable. School districts and residential child care institutions may receive reimbursement for lunches served to enrolled students at predetermined rates established for free, reduced-price, or full-price meals each fiscal year.

National School Breakfast Program - As with the National School Lunch Program, any public or private nonprofit school or licensed residential child care institution is eligible to benefit from the School Breakfast Program. School districts and residential child care institutions may receive reimbursement for breakfasts served to enrolled students at predetermined rates established for free, reduced-price, or full-price meals each fiscal year. 

After-School Snack Program - Sections 107 and 108 of Public Law 105-336 (the Child Nutrition Reauthorization Act of 1998) authorizes reimbursement for snacks served to children through the age of 18 (and to individuals, regardless of age, who are determined by the State Department of Education [the State Agency] to be mentally or physically disabled) who participate in programs organized to provide after-school care.  The intent is to assist sites in operating organized programs of care which include education or enrichment activities known to help reduce or prevent children’s involvement in juvenile crime or other high-risk behavior.

Summer Food Service Program - While learning does not end when school lets out, neither does the need for good nutrition. The Summer Food Service Program (SFSP) is good nutritious food that’s “in” when school is “out.” It was created to ensure that children in low-income areas could continue to receive nutritious meals during long school vacations, when they do not have access to school lunch or breakfast. 

Nutrition Education and Training Program - Oklahoma’s food service and nutrition education efforts were augmented with the passage of the Child Nutrition Act of 1977, as amended, creating the NET program.  Goals of this federal legislation were to:

  1. Teach children the relationship between food and health and encourage good eating habits. 
  2. Train food service personnel in nutrition and food service management and encourage use of the school cafeteria as an environment for learning about food and nutrition. 
  3. Instruct educators in nutrition education and in the use of the cafeteria as a learning laboratory. 
  4. Develop or purchase appropriate nutrition education and training materials and curricula. 

Special Milk Program - School districts which have split-session kindergarten and preprimary students who do not have access to the National School Lunch and/or School Breakfast Programs may receive reimbursement for milk served to these students. Schools may choose either to serve milk free to students qualifying according to family income, serve milk at a set price to all students, or serve milk free to all students 

Child and Adult Care Food Program - Child care centers, adult day care centers, Head Start programs, and family day care homes may participate in the Child and Adult Care Food Program. Eligible institutions include settlement houses, day care centers, organizations providing day care services for disabled individuals and /or adults 60 years of age or older, and outside-school-hours care centers. Organizations eligible to sponsor a CACFP include units of state or local government; nonprofit private organizations such as community action agencies and churches; and private for-profit organizations sponsoring Title XX and Title XIX centers which receive Title XX and Title XIX compensation for at least 25 percent of the participants enrolled or 25 percent of license capacity, whichever is less. 

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In accordance with federal law and U.S. Department of Agriculture policy, this institution is prohibited from discriminating on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex, age, or disability. To file a complaint of discrimination, write USDA, Director, Office of Adjudication, 1400 Independence Avenue, SW, Washington, D.C., 20250-9410 or call toll free (866) 632-9992 (Voice). Individuals who are hearing-impaired or have speech disabilities may contact USDA through the Federal Relay Service at (800) 877-8339 or (800) 845-6136 (Spanish). USDA is an equal opportunity provider and employer.

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National School Lunch Program

The National School Lunch Act, passed in 1946, established school lunch programs across the nation. The purpose of the program was to safeguard the health and well-being of the nation's children and to encourage the consumption of agricultural abundance. 

The National School Lunch Program is available to any public or private nonprofit school or licensed residential child care institution. The objectives of the National School Lunch Program are to make available to all students enrolled in schools and institutions a meal during a period designated as the lunch period; to provide nutritionally adequate meals that are acceptable to students, thus reducing plate waste; to provide assistance to participants to ensure that minimum meal requirements are met; and to ensure that all programs are accountable. School districts and residential child care institutions may receive reimbursement for lunches served to enrolled students at predetermined rates established for free, reduced-price, or full-price meals each fiscal year. 

In 1995, the federal government implemented regulations that require all school lunches and breakfasts to be consistent with the recommendation for the Dietary Guidelines for Americans. This rule established specific minimum standards for calories and key nutrients that meals must meet.

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National School Breakfast Program

Established by federal legislation in 1966, the School Breakfast Program received permanent authorization in 1975. The purposes of this program are to make breakfast available in schools for students who, for various reasons, come to school without an adequate breakfast and to increase the number of school breakfast programs by continuing to notify all nonbreakfast-program schools as to the availability of the program.

As with the National School Lunch Program, any public or private nonprofit school or licensed residential child care institution is eligible to benefit from the School Breakfast Program. School districts and residential child care institutions may receive reimbursement for breakfasts served to enrolled students at predetermined rates established for free, reduced-price, or full-price meals each fiscal year.

In 1995, the federal government implemented regulations that require all school lunches and breakfasts to be consistent with the recommendation for the Dietary Guidelines for Americans. This rule established specific minimum standards for calories and key nutrients that meals must meet.

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After-School Snack Program

The After-School Snack Program was created to provide after-school snacks to children who participate in an organized after-school enrichment or educational program. The after-school program must provide children with regularly scheduled activities in a structured and supervised setting and must be run by a school that is operating the National School Lunch Program.

Schools participating in the After-School Snack Program may claim reimbursement for one snack per child per day for participating children enrolled in public school. A qualifying after-school program located in an attendance area of a school site in which at least 50 percent of the enrolled students are certified for free or reduced-price meals may receive reimbursement for snacks served to students at the free rate. A qualifying after-school program located in an attendance area that does not meet the 50 percent free and reduce-price criteria may receive reimbursement for snacks served to students at the free, reduced-price, or full-price rates established each new fiscal year.

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Nutrition Education and Training Program

Oklahoma’s food service and nutrition education efforts were augmented with the passage of the Child Nutrition Act of 1977, as amended, creating the NET program.  Goals of this federal legislation were to: 

  1. Teach children the relationship between food and health and encourage good eating habits. 
  2. Train food service personnel in nutrition and food service management and encourage use of the school cafeteria as an environment for learning about food and nutrition. 
  3. Instruct educators in nutrition education and in the use of the cafeteria as a learning laboratory. 
  4. Develop or purchase appropriate nutrition education and training materials and curricula. 

To help meet these goals, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) created Team Nutrition to produce resource materials available for purchase from the Nation Food Service Management Institute (NFSMI).  In addition, Oklahoma Team Nutrition was created as a part of USDA National Team Nutrition to provide technical assistance and training to Oklahoma Child Nutrition Program (CNP) participants.

All children, teachers, and food service personnel in public or private nonprofit sites and Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP) institutions are eligible to participate in Oklahoma Team Nutrition workshops/training and have access to the Oklahoma Team Nutrition Resource Library.

USDA funds all of these programs.  If you would like more information on the NET program or on Oklahoma Team Nutrition, please call the SDE at (405) 521-3327.

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Special Milk Program

In 1954, the Special Milk Program was implemented to encourage fluid milk consumption by selling milk to students at the lowest possible price and serving milk free to students determined to be eligible. Beginning in 1981 and continuing through 1986, this program was available only to schools and nonprofit child care institutions not participating in the National School Lunch and/or School Breakfast Programs. In 1986, the Special Milk Program was expanded to include split-session kindergarten children who do not have access to the breakfast and/or lunch programs because of their half-day schedules. The benefits of the program were also extended to preprimary class students who do not have access to the breakfast and/or lunch program because of their half-day schedules.

School districts which have split-session kindergarten and preprimary students who do not have access to the National School Lunch and/or School Breakfast Programs may receive reimbursement for milk served to these students. Schools may choose either to serve milk free to students qualifying according to family income, serve milk at a set price to all students, or serve milk free to all students.

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Child and Adult Care Food Program 

Child and Adult Care Food Program Institutions | Excel | pdf |

The Special Food Service Program for Children, established by Congress in 1968, was the forerunner of the Child Care Food Program. Further legislation in 1975, 1978, 1981, and 1987 clarified, expanded, and made permanent the Child Care Food Program. The title was changed in 1989 to the Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP). 

Child care centers, adult day care centers, Head Start programs, and family day care homes may participate in the CACFP. Eligible institutions include settlement houses, day care centers, organizations providing day care services for disabled individuals and /or adults 60 years of age or older, and outside-school-hours care centers. Organizations eligible to sponsor a CACFP include units of state or local government; nonprofit private organizations such as community action agencies and churches; and private for-profit organizations sponsoring Title XX and Title XIX centers which receive Title XX and Title XIX compensation for at least 25 percent of the participants enrolled or 25 percent of license capacity, whichever is less. 

Two types of assistance are available through the CACFP. The first of these—cash reimbursement—is available for meals and/or supplements meeting the United States Department of Agriculture meal pattern requirements, but not exceeding three meals per day per child. The second type of assistance available through the program is in the form of commodities donated by the United States Department of Agriculture. Commodities are made available to eligible participating agencies through the Oklahoma Department of Human Services Food and Nutrition Service Unit.

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School Meals Initiative 

In 1995, the federal government implemented regulations that require all school lunches and breakfasts to be consistent with the recommendation for the Dietary Guidelines for Americans. This rule established specific minimum standards for calories and key nutrients that meals must meet. 

Schools may select one of five menu-planning options. The options include Enhanced Food-Based Menu Planning, Traditional Menu Planning, Nutrient Standard Menu Planning, Assisted Nutrient Standard Menu Planning, or Any Reasonable Approach. Different options may be used in different schools, and different options may be used for breakfast and lunch at the same school. 

The regulations require that protein, vitamin A, vitamin C, iron, calcium, and calories be monitored to ensure that 1/4 of the Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) has been met for breakfast and 1/3 of the RDA for lunch, as well as meeting the Dietary Guidelines for Americans concerning fat, sodium, and fiber consumption. When averaged over a school week, all school meals must contain 30 percent or less of total calories from fat and 10 percent or less of calories from saturated fat. 

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Last updated on March 29, 2012