National School Lunch Program

    The National School Lunch Program (NSLP) is a federally assisted meal program operating in public and nonprofit private schools and residential child care institutions. It provides nutritionally balanced, low-cost or no-cost lunches to children each school day. The program was established under the Richard B. Russell National School Lunch Act, signed into law by President Harry Truman in 1946.

    Schools that participate in the program receive cash reimbursements for meals served. Students who attend participating schools can get NSLP lunches regardless of household income, though some students may be eligible for Free or Reduced Priced Meals. 

    Free & Reduced Priced Meals

    Each year the federal government releases the poverty threshold for the entire US. Depending on that amount, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) releases new income eligibility limits for what will be considered free or reduced-priced meals this year. 

    Free meals are available to children whose household income is at or below 130% of the poverty line while reduced-priced meals are available to children whose household income is between 130 and 185% of the poverty line.

    NSLP at NPS

    Students can be eligible for free or reduced-priced meals one of two ways: through the Direct Certification process or via paper application. Once a determination is made, it is good for the remainder of the school year plus thirty operating (school) days into the next year.

    Direct Certification

    Schools are required to run "Direct Certification" three times per school year. Direct Certification is where the Executive Office of Health and Human Services of Massachusetts works with schools to determine if any students participate in other programs based on income. 

    These programs may include Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly Food Stamps), TANF (Temporary Assistance for Needy Families), Medicaid, MassHealth, Foster Care, or a host of other programs. 

    If a family or a child in the family receives benefits from one of these programs, they may be automatically qualified for Free or Reduced-priced meals. Families who have been automatically qualified receive a notice letter that their school's cafeteria cashier point-of-sale system has been updated with the child's free or reduced status. 

    Paper Application

    For families who are not Directly Certified, there is the option of submitting a paper application. This simple form asks for a list of family members with basic information as well as any income for the family. The application is then processed, a determination made, and a notice letter sent home.

    For families who work seasonally, there is also the option to submit an application for overall annual income. 

    Families are welcome to apply as many times as necessary to receive Free or Reduced lunch availability. 

    If a family receives reduced-priced meals, they can still apply for free meals. 

    More Information

    If you have more questions about this program, please contact: 
    Sarah Erichsen
    Central Registrar
    508-228-7285 x1149