National School Lunch Program

The Richard B. Russell National School Lunch Act is a United States federal law signed by President Harry S. Truman in 1946. The act created the National School Lunch Program (NSLP), a program to provide low cost or free school lunch meals to qualified students through subsidies to schools. The program was established as a way to prop up food prices by absorbing farm surpluses, while at the same time providing food to school age children.

The majority of the support provided to schools participating in the program comes in the form of a cash reimbursement for each meal served. Schools are also entitled to receive commodity foods and additional commodities as they are available from surplus agricultural stocks. The National School Lunch Program serves 30.5 million children each day at a cost of $8.7 billion for fiscal year 2007.