The National School Lunch Program was established under the 1946 National School Lunch Act. The purpose of this federally assisted program is to provide nutritionally balanced, low-cost, or free lunches to children each school day.
Moss Point School District receives cash subsidies and donated commodities from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) for each student meal they serve—no reimbursement or commodities are received for adult meals. This reimbursement makes up the difference between what the lunch costs to produce and what the student pays. The amount of federal reimbursement paid per lunch depends on the economic need of the student.
School meals must meet the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, which recommend that no more than 30 percent of an individual’s calories come from fat, and less than 10 percent from saturated fat. Regulations also establish a standard for school lunches to provide one-third of the Recommended Dietary Allowances of key nutrients and calories.
School Lunch Pattern
The school lunch pattern provides a framework for planning nutritionally adequate school lunches. A school lunch must contain four components in order to receive reimbursement. The four components are:
- meat/meat alternative
- vegetable and/or fruit
- bread/bread alternate
A minimum of 5 menu items must be served to meet meal pattern requirements, which includes a combination of two servings of vegetable/fruit being served daily.
With the exception of milk products, a student may purchase individual components of the meal only if the full meal unit is being purchased and the item to be purchased is a component of the federal meal pattern. Students cannot purchase an additional dessert item at any time because dessert is not a component of the USDA meal pattern. Adults, however, are allowed to purchase individual components of the meal including desserts at the approved purchase price. Students who bring a lunch from home may purchase milk products only.
Because no reimbursement or commodities are received for adult meals, the Department of Child Nutrition is not allowed to absorb this difference in cost. The difference in adult meal costs must be covered by a higher price to the adult.
A child purchasing a second meal would be charged the price of an adult meal due to the fact that only one meal per child can be claimed for reimbursement.