Cal-Pro-NET at San Jose State University

San Jose State University | Dept. of Nutrition and Food Science
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A Primer for School Nutrition Programs

An online introduction for schools or other qualified institutions considering participation in federally-funded nutrition programs


The National School Lunch Program (NSLP) and School Breakfast Program (SBP) form the core of the federal school nutrition programs. These programs reimburse public and nonprofit schools and residential child care institutions (e.g., group homes, juvenile halls, orphanages) for free and reduced-price meals served to qualifying students.

In addition, these programs provide a small reimbursement for "paid" meals (those paid by students at full price) each school day. Schools participating in the NSLP also receive food directly from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) through the USDA Foods Program. The USDA is responsible for overseeing the programs nationally.

Schoolchildren eating lunch

In California, the program is administered by the California Department of Education (CDE), Nutrition Services Division (NSD). The CDE/NSD oversees the state-wide operation of the local school nutrition programs and ensures consistency in the administration of the programs across the state. CDE/NSD provides training and technical assistance to school food authorities and conducts administrative reviews of programs in individual schools to ensure compliance with federal requirements. CDE/NSD is also responsible for ordering and distributing USDA Foods.

Each of the links below points to a PDF file which you can view and/or print.


Training Topics


 Program Fact Sheets

  [Updated 10/2018]


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This site was last updated on 2/18/2019