National School Lunch Act
The Richard B. Russell National School Lunch Act (79 P.L. 396, 60 Stat. 230) is a United States federal law that created the National School Lunch Program (NSLP) 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. It was named after Richard Russell, Jr., and signed into law President Harry S. Truman in 1946.
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. Most participants are also eligible for food during the summer through the Summer Food Service Program.
Where the food comes from 
Any school is eligible to receive NSLP for its students; meals come from a number of different sources, they can come from on-site production, vended meal from a NSLP caterer or in most schools provided by the local school board centralized kitchen.
This is usually regulated by each state's Department of Education's nutrition services. Regardless of who provides the food (on-site production, catered-vended, or school board kitchen), the raw materials come from USDA as donated commodities; in the case of vended meals, the caterer must use and credit the school for the commodities received.
Food safety 
Driven to increase the quality of food in the NSLP, the USDA Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) undertook an ambitious agenda a few years ago to provide schools with a consistent supply of safe, low-fat ground beef.
Beginning in 2002, AMS established a statistically based vendor certification and supply chain quality management program for the purchase of ground beef and pork for NSLP under the Technical Requirements Schedule (GB‑2006, the current version). The program has enjoyed considerable success in reducing pathogen levels and controlling fat content in lean beef and pork that is provided to school children.
Under the program, Meat Grading and Certification (MGC) Branch agents enforce continuous auditing and in-plant monitoring as long as the contractor is in the program. Microbial and fat SPC charts and graphs for microbial levels and fat content are monitored for process assessment purposes on a daily basis.
The current nutrition standards being used by the National School Lunch Program and National School Breakfast program were established in 1995. At the request of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), the Institute of Medicine assembled a committee to recommend updates and revisions to the school lunch and breakfast programs.
The first report, Nutrition Standards and Meal Requirements for National School Lunch and Breakfast Programs: Phase I. Proposed Approach for Recommending Revisions provides information about the committee's approach as it reviews the school lunch and breakfast programs. Phase II of the report is expected in Fall 2009, and the committee will share its findings and recommendations to bring these meals more in line with today’s dietary guidelines.
In late 2009, the Institute of Medicine of the National Academies releasedSchool Meals: Building Blocks For Healthy Children. This report reviews and provides recommendations to update the nutrition standard and the meal requirements for the National School Lunch Program and School Breakfast Program. School Meals also sets standards for menu planning that focus on food groups, calories, saturated fat, and sodium and that incorporate Dietary Guidelines for Americans and the Dietary Reference Intakes.
In December 2009, a report was released that showed that fast food restaurants were far more rigorous in checking for bacteria and dangerous pathogens in beef and chicken than the school lunch program. "We simply are not giving our kids in schools the same level of quality and safety as you get when you go to many fast-food restaurants", said J. Glenn Morris, director of the Emerging Pathogens Institute at the University of Florida. "We are not using those same standards."
In November 2011, an agriculture appropriations bill passed by Congress garnered controversy for blocking a proposed change by the Obama administration to school lunch regulations, whereby 1/8 of a cup of tomato paste would no longer have been considered as having the nutritional equivalent of 1/2 a cup of vegetables, but instead only as having the nutritional equivalent of 1/8 of a cup of vegetables (i.e., schools can only credit a volume of vegetables as equivalent to its actual size). Critics of this move by Congress claim that pressure was placed upon officials voting on the bill by lobbyists representing pizza manufacturers and cheese producers, as it was seen to threaten the ability of schools to serve pizza and credit it with the same level of nutritional value as they heretofore had. Many critics have sardonically summarized the situation as "Pizza is now a vegetable" or "Congress decides pizza is a vegetable". However, others have pointed out that 1/8 of a cup of tomato paste stacks up remarkably well against a 1/2 cup of vegetables nutritionally, albeit with an excessive amount of sodium that could be argued to reduce its nutritional value.
National School Lunch Week 
National School Lunch Week takes place on the second Sunday in October.
See also 
- Child and Adult Care Food Program
- Child Nutrition Act of 1966
- Free school meal
- Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010
- Nutrition for Learning (in Kitchener, Ontario, Canada)
- Tino De Angelis - intentionally sold spoiled meat to the National School Lunch Program
- Copy of the School Lunch Act As Enacted in 1946, Federal Education Policy History website
- The National School Lunch Program Background and Development
- Delivering the "Stats" for National School Lunch Quality and Safety Jeff Cawley
- "Review of National School Lunch and School Breakfast Program Meal Patterns and Nutrient Standards". 2008-02-11. Retrieved 2008-12-19.
- "Nutrition Standards and Meal Requirements for National School Lunch and Breakfast Programs: Phase I. Proposed Approach for Recommending Revisions". The National Academies Press. 2008-12-17. Retrieved 2008-12-19.
- National Academy of Sciences. 2009. School Meals: Building Blocks For Healthy Children. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. Available at:http://www.nap.edu/catalog.php?record_id=12751.
- Eisler, Peter; Morrison, Blake; DeBarros, Anthony (2009-12-09). "Fast-food standards for meat top those for school lunches". USA Today. Retrieved 2009-12-10.
- History of the National School Lunch Program
- USDA Food and Nutrition Service National School Lunch Program
- Copy of the School Lunch Act As Enacted in 1946, Federal Education Policy History website (PDF)
- National School Lunch Act - As amended through P.L. 108-269, July 2, 2004 (PDF)
- Amendments made to the National School Lunch Act by the 108th Congress on June 30, 2004 (PDF)
- Technical Requirements Schedule - GB-2006, For USDA Purchases of Ground Beef Items, Frozen
- Food safety concerns
- The Future of America…It’s a Fat Outlook
- Christenson, Jerome . "Minnesota schools seek ways to reduce garbage." MPRnews (2010): n. pag. Web. 31 May 2011. <http://minnesota.publicradio.org/display/web/2010/11/20/school-trash/>.
- "How School Lunch Packaging Waste Adds Up ." About.com n. pag. Web. 31 May 2011. <http://environment.about.com/od/greenlivingdesign/a/school_lunch.htm>.
- Eng, Monica. "Wasting away Pounds of untouched food trashed daily in CPS lunchrooms." Chicago Tribune (2011): n. pag. Web. 31 May 2011. <http://articles.chicagotribune.com/2011-02-20/news/ct-met-school-lunch-waste-20110220_1_cps-lunchrooms-lunchroom-waste-unwanted-fruit>.
- Cioci, Madalyn, and Tim Farnan. Digging Deep Through School Trash, 2010. Web. 31 May 2011
- "Food Waste & Organics." Ramsey County n. pag. Web. 31 May 2011. <http://www.co.ramsey.mn.us/ph/rt/food_waste_and_organics.htm>.
- Bergman, Ethan. "The Relationship of Meal and Recess Schedules to Plate Waste in Elementary Schools." Journal of Child Nutrition & Management 2 (2004): n. pag. Web. 31 May 2011.
- NSLP Caterer working on healthier menus in Florida KiddieCatering.com 9 June 2011. <http://www.KiddieCatering.com>.