Three Breakfast and Lunch Programs in Ohio

The Ohio School Breakfast Program (referred to as the SBP) provides free or reduced-cost breakfasts to eligible children in schools. Similarly, the National School Lunch Program in OH (referred to as the NSLP) provides free or reduced-cost lunches to eligible school children. An Ohio free summer lunch program is also available in some communities for meals outside of the academic calendar. Ohio coordinates with the federal lunch programs for schools administered by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). The USDA has expanded the NSLP to include the SBP and other child nutrition programs.

National School Lunch Program (NSLP) in Ohio

What is the NSLP? In 1946, when NSLP started, the National School Lunch Act was signed by President Harry Truman to address the problem of malnutrition in the nation’s children. The National School Lunch Program recognized that schools were uniquely positioned to be able to provide regular meals to the most children. This act legislated certain NSLP regulations to provide funding for school kitchens and food purchases to ensure consistent nutrition for school children who met certain eligibility criteria. With the introduction of the Ohio National School Lunch Program and regular funding, the state could reliably provide free or reduced-cost lunches for more low-income residents.

When NSLP started in Ohio, it was a public school federal lunch program that did not address private schools or children who were too young to go to school. However, the National School Lunch Program in OH currently provides free or reduced lunches to non-profit private schools, child care institutions and charter schools. All Ohio NSLP lunches must adhere to NSLP regulations for proper nutritional guidelines and consistency. Some children can participate in the OH National School Lunch Program automatically if their parents are recipients of other assistance programs, like the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). Some qualify for NSLP in Ohio automatically due to their status as a foster child, runaway, migrant or homeless student.

Nutritional guidelines for the National School Lunch Program in Ohio have changed several times since NLSP started and was mainly concerned with providing enough protein and calories. The most recent Ohio NLSP changes occurred in 2012, providing guidance for federal lunch programs for schools to address emerging nutritional problems, such as childhood obesity and early onset Type II diabetes. Today’s National School Lunch Program in Ohio mandates healthier options, including more whole grains, vegetables, fruits and low-fat or fat-free milk. In addition, the Ohio NSLP decreases sodium, trans fats and saturated fats. These new NSLP regulations were designed to offset the childhood obesity trend while improving childhood health and diet.

Income eligibility for the National School Lunch Program in OH varies each year. The Ohio NSLP annual income adjustments were put in effect when NSLP started and are meant to provide benefits to the children who need it most. In accordance with NSLP regulations, the adjustments reflect Consumer Price Index (CPI) changes. In general, income eligibility for the national school lunch program is a percentage of the federal poverty for free lunches and a higher percentage for reduced-price lunches.

OH residents who do not automatically qualify for the National School Lunch Program must apply at their school. For complete information about NSLP eligibility guidelines, deadlines and the application process, download the comprehensive guide.

School Breakfast Program (SBP) in Ohio

What is the SBP in Ohio? When NSLP started in OH, it only provided for federal lunch programs for schools. However, the School Breakfast Program was added to the legislation in 1966. The federal School Breakfast Program in Ohio was originally part of a two-year pilot project to test a free school breakfast program for Ohio and other states. Priority for the new breakfast programs in schools was given to schools in poverty-stricken areas or located where children had to travel a long distance from home. In 1971, Congress added SBP regulations to address new special needs and provide a free school breakfast program in areas with a high rate of working mothers with children. Due to the success of the SBP decades ago, the OH school breakfast program is now permanent.

Summer Food Service Program (SFSP) in Ohio

What is the Summer Food Service Program in Ohio? The Summer Food Service Program began as a pilot program in 1968. It originally provided a federal summer lunch program for needy children in child care centers. However, SFSP expanded to include free summer lunch programs for residential summer camps and non-profit organization sponsors.

The OH federal summer lunch program is available at three types of sites: open, enrolled or camp. Eligible Ohio residents can participate in SFSP at open sites, which can be found in low-income areas. Open sites provide a free summer lunch to any children at the site. Enrolled sites and camp sites provide a summer food service program to children who are enrolled in their activity program. While enrolled sites can obtain SFSP funding for all children if more than half of their enrollees qualify for free or reduced-price lunches, camp sites might only receive reimbursement for only the children who meet the eligibility requirements of the program. Children enrolled in an SFSP and who are 18 years of age or younger can get free meals and snacks. Children who are older than 18 years of age and are physically or mentally disabled can also participate in the Ohio free summer lunch program if they are enrolled at a qualified site. At qualified Ohio SFSP sites, children typically receive one or two meals per day. Some sites that provide a federal summer lunch program in Ohio provide up to three meals per day if they mainly serve migrant children.

Ohio residents who are wondering, “How can I participate in SFSP” can download the comprehensive guide to obtain eligibility and application information.

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Ohio Family Assistance

What Kind of Family Assistance Does Ohio Offer?

The Ohio Department of Job and Family Services (ODJFS) manages the implementation of family programs designed to provide assistance to families in need. These programs include food assistance, cash assistance and protective services. Learn more about the services the ODJFS provides by downloading our comprehensive guide today.


Who Can Benefit From Ohio Family Assistance?

Individuals and households who need support in buying food and other necessities can receive assistance from the various ODJFS programs. In order to receive benefits, applicants must meet certain criteria, such as income, age and citizenship requirements. See what benefits you could qualify for here.