Key Steps to Improve Access to Free and Reduced-Price School Meals
The National School Lunch Program (NSLP) is a well-established federal program that provides school children with a nutritious lunch every school day. In recent years, free and reduced-price school breakfasts and lunches have been especially beneficial for children from low-income families that are struggling to afford nutritious food in the midst of a severe economic downturn.
The program is also a reliable source of nutritional support for particularly vulnerable children, such as children in foster care or who are homeless, runaway, or migrant, all of whom are automatically eligible for free meals in school.
State and local program administrators can take steps to improve program access for eligible children in several key areas. This paper highlights helpful resources and describes six key opportunities for advocates and program administrators to ensure that all eligible children are certified quickly and easily for free or reduced-price school meals.