Providing access to balanced meals with nutrient-rich foods is critical to support the health, development, and academic potential of all students.
The National School Lunch Program (NSLP) provides nutritionally balanced, low-cost, or free lunches to children each school day. The nutrition profile of school meals has significantly improved since 2012, with expanded access to fresh fruits, vegetables, and whole grain menu items, and reduced sodium and saturated fat content of meals.
All 24 Maryland public school systems and 22 non-profit private schools and residential childcare institutions participate in the NSLP, providing over 900,000 students with access to nutritious lunches and snacks each day.
The NSLP reimburses schools with federal dollars for meals that comply with the USDA nutrition standards. In Maryland, all public schools participate in the NSLP, as do many nonprofit private schools and residential childcare institutions.
The cost of school lunch for students is determined by each school district. Some students may qualify for free and reduced-priced meals based on family income eligibility. Children from families with incomes at or below 130 - 185% of the poverty level may receive meals at a free or reduced price. Students in families receiving Temporary Cash Assistance (TCA) and/or food stamp benefits are eligible for free lunches.
School Wellness Policy
A local school wellness policy is a written document that guides a local educational agency’s (LEA) efforts to establish a school environment that promotes students’ health, well-being, and ability to learn.
The US Department of Agriculture (USDA) requires LEAs participating in the National School Lunch Program and/or School Breakfast Program to have a wellness policy.
Each LEAs’ wellness policy must include the following components:
Many LEAs in Maryland have been recognized as national leaders in their wellness policy work. Maryland has advocated and supported LEAs in developing wellness policies that include components of the Whole School, Whole Community, Whole Child (WSCC) model, a framework developed by the Center for Disease Control to address health in schools.
Office of School and Community Nutrition Programs
200 West Baltimore Street, Baltimore, MD 21201-2595