National School Lunch Program
The National School Lunch Program (NSLP) is a federal meal program administered by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). It allows children in public and non-profit private schools and residential child care institutions to receive nutritionally balanced, low-cost or free lunches. Approximately 12% of the NSLP support schools receive, may be in the form of USDA commodity foods that are used in the preparation of the students’ meals. The Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (FDACS) is responsible for providing these USDA commodities to participating schools in Florida.
To be eligible to receive commodities, the schools must be approved by the Florida Department of Education for participation in the National School Lunch Program. Private, non-profit Florida schools interested in participating in the National School Lunch Program may contact the Florida Department of Education (FDOE) directly for information about the program and to file an NSLP application. Their web site is listed below.
Once approved for NSLP by the Department of Education, the school can apply to FDACS to receive commodities. The commodity entitlement is based on the average daily number (ADP) of lunches served by the entity. Because commodities are ordered and allocated in the spring for the following school year, a school must have an agreement with FDACS by that time to fully benefit from the commodity program.
The variety of commodities schools can get from USDA depends on quantities available and market conditions. Starting in the spring, USDA offers commodities for the schools to choose from and requisition for the upcoming school year. Schools place their requisitions using the USDA’s Electronic Commodity Ordering System. The FDACS staff places the orders with the USDA on behalf of the schools based on those requisitions, total quantities requested and shipping periods available. Depending on the quantities requested, schools can choose to have their commodities delivered to their own or privately contracted warehouse or a state-contracted warehouse. In the case of some bulk items, commodities may be diverted to a processor to be made into a more user friendly or acceptable product.
Links to Related Web Sites
Visit the FDOE Food and Nutrition Management Web Site
Visit the USDA National School Lunch Program Web Site