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National School Lunch Program

The National School Lunch Program (NSLP) is the oldest and largest of the Child Nutrition Programs, celebrating 50 years in 1996. It is a federally assisted meal program that provides balanced, low-cost or free lunches to thousands of children in Colorado each day.

Since 1946, the National School Lunch Program has made it possible for schools to serve appealing lunches designed to meet the needs of children. In recent years, concerns have emerged regarding the overall nutritional content of school meals. These concerns address findings that the diet of Americans has changed from being low in nutrients and adequate in calories to containing an overabundance of calories, fat, saturated fat, cholesterol and sodium. At the same time, Americans eat too few grains, fruits and vegetables. A good diet can help to reduce the occurrence of chronic diseases and promote good health and well being.

The USDA School Meals Initiative for Healthy Children underscores our national responsibility to provide healthy school meals that are consistent with the Recommended Dietary Allowances (RDA) and the Dietary Guidelines for Americans.




  • National School Lunch Menu Checklist Tool  (word)  (pdf)

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