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Starting in the 2012-2013 school year, schools will be requried to follow a new school lunch meal pattern. 

Click here for the presentation concerning the changes.

Program objective
Eligibility criteria
Participation requirements
Pricing of lunches
Record-keeping
For further information


Program objective

To provide a nutritious, well-balanced lunch for children in order to promote sound eating habits, to foster good health and academic achievement and to reinforce the nutrition education taught in the classroom. A school lunch will provide 1/3 of the Recommended Dietary Allowances for lunch and be consistent with the Dietary Guidelines for Americans and caloric goals.

Eligibility criteria

  • All public schools, nonprofit private schools tax exempt under 501(C)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code and residential child care institutions are eligible to sponsor a program that may begin at any time during the year.
  • Participating sponsors receive cash reimbursement which is adjusted annually and donated United States Department of Agriculture commodities based on the number of lunches served to children.

Participation requirements

  • Sponsors must annually sign an agreement with the Bureau of Child Nutrition Programs, New Jersey Department of Agriculture that includes, but is not limited to, the following requirements:
    • Plan menus which meet specific minimum standards for key nutrients and calories through selection of an approved menu planning system.
    • Claim reimbursement only for lunches served to children that meet the required meal pattern.
    • Provide a free or reduced price lunch to any child from a household meeting criteria for eligibility, based on household size and income.
    • The program must be operated on a nonprofit basis solely for the benefit of all children within the school.

Pricing of lunches

  • The price charged to paying children is established by the sponsor, but must be within the maximum prices established by the Bureau of Child Nutrition Programs.
  • The price charged to adults must cover all costs and, at a minimum, exceed the price of children's lunches by a margin established by the Bureau of Child Nutrition Programs to compensate for the reimbursement and donated commodities available only for children's lunches.

Record-keeping

  • A reimbursement voucher is filed monthly with the Bureau of Child Nutrition Programs, New Jersey Department of Agriculture.
  • Maintain current records to include, but not limited to, applications for free and reduced price meals, edit check worksheets, daily meal counts and income records, daily dated menus, production records, standardized recipes, and manufacturer's nutrition fact sheets for commercially processed foods.
  • The required statistical and financial records supporting all reimbursement vouchers must be kept on file for a period of three years following the fiscal year to which they pertain except that, if audit findings have not been resolved, the records shall be retained beyond the three year period as long as required for the resolution of issues raised by the audit.
  • All records must be available for administrative review and/or audit by the Bureau of Child Nutrition Programs, New Jersey Department of Agriculture and the United States Department of Agriculture.

For further information

Click here for contact information regarding the National School Lunch Program or any other Child Nutrition Program.


The U.S. Department of Agriculture prohibits discrimination against its customers, employees, and applicants for employment on the bases of race, color, national origin, age, disability, sex, gender identity, religion, reprisal, and where applicable, political beliefs, marital status, familial or parental status, sexual orientation, or all or part of an individual’s income is derived from any public assistance program, or protected genetic information in employment or in any program or activity conducted or funded by the Department. (Not all prohibited bases will apply to all programs and/or employment activities.)  If you wish to file a Civil Rights program complaint of discrimination, complete the USDA  Program Discrimination Complaint Form, found online at www.ascr.usda.gov/complaint_filing_cust.html, or at any USDA office, or call (866) 6329992 to request the form.  You may also write a letter containing all of the information requested in the form.  Send your completed complaint form or letter to us by mail at U.S. Department of Agriculture, Director, Office of Adjudication, 1400 Independence Avenue, S.W., Washington, D.C. 20250-9410, by fax (202) 690-7442 or email at program.intake@usda.gov.  Individuals who are deaf, hard of hearing or have speech disabilities may contact USDA through the Federal Relay Service at (800) 877-8339; or (800) 845-6136 (Spanish).   USDA is an equal opportunity provider and employer.