THE THREE MEAL PROGRAMS IN TEXAS
The School Breakfast Program, National School Lunch Program, and Summer Food Service Program are all programs offered in the state of Texas that help children from low-income households to eat at least one healthy meal each day. All public schools in the state of Texas are required to offer these programs if at least ten percent of the students attending a school are eligible for food assistance.
The School Breakfast Program in Texas (SBP), is a food assistance program that provides low cost or free breakfast to children during school hours. This federal school breakfast program is available to children who can establish a financial need. Much like SBP, the Texas National School Lunch Program (NSLP) provides a free or affordable meal during school lunch hours. Because SBP and NSLP meals are only available at school, children who depend on these programs for food may not be receiving enough nutrition during the summer recess. The Summer Food Service Program in Texas (SFSP) exists to fill the gap for when school is no longer in session. SFSP provides children with meals at reduced or no cost at special SFSP meal sites during the summer.
Federal lunch programs for schools are meant to ensure that every child in Texas has access to a healthy meal on a daily basis. Together, SBP, NSLP, and SFSP have given children living under the federal poverty line a chance to eat while they are receiving an education. Generally speaking, a child will qualify for either program if he or she is receiving benefits from Temporary Assistance for Needy Families or the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program. Children that live in a household with an annual combined income that is 185 percent of the federal poverty line or less will be eligible for meals at a reduced cost. Households that earn less than 135 percent of the federal poverty line may qualify for free lunch and breakfast. Benefits may also be given to Texas residents ages 18 and over who are participating in an adult day care program.
The School Breakfast Program, National School Lunch Program, and Summer Food Service Program all play an important role in ensuring that school aged children in TX are getting the nutrients they need. Applications to participate in SBP, NSLP, and SFSP are usually given out by teachers to students during the first week of the school year.
This section on the three programs in Texas will cover:
- School Breakfast Program in Texas
- National School Lunch Program in Texas
- Summer Food Service Program in Texas
School Breakfast Program (SBP) in Texas
What is the SBP? The School Breakfast Program in TX is available to all children who are able to demonstrate a financial need for food assistance. This program is known to some as the free school breakfast program because SBP provides eligible Texas children with free breakfast. However, SBP regulations relay that not all children who are eligible for SBP in Texas are eligible for free breakfast. Through the School Breakfast Program, some children may be qualified to receive breakfast at school at a reduced price, instead.
The federal School Breakfast Program was signed into law after the success of the National School Lunch Program was observed. It became apparent that nationwide, there were many children who were helped greatly from NSLP because they may not have access to another meal for the rest of the day. Lawmakers of the time acknowledged that a reduced or free school breakfast program would even further benefit the same children who received food assistance at school from NSLP.
Once household income is verified as meeting eligibility qualifications, the School Breakfast Program in Texas is available to children who are attending public, non-profit, or boarding school. SBP is also available to children residing in a residential child care institutions or juvenile detention center. Also, the child’s guardian must be a legal Texas resident.
National School Lunch Program (NSLP) in Texas
The National School Lunch Program is another food assistance program offered to children attending public learning institutions. In specific regard to what is the NSLP, this program provides a well-balanced lunch to children who need help affording lunch at school. Through the National School Lunch Program, children have access to high quality meals each school day at low or no cost. NSLP regulations in TX require that all children benefitting from the National School Lunch Program demonstrate a financial need. To participate in NSLP, there are income requirements contingent on household size that must be met. Much like SBP in Texas, children must be attending a public school, boarding school, or living as a ward of the state to qualify for NSLP food assistance benefits.
When NSLP started, lawmakers intended to make sure that even children from low-income households were able to get at least one nutritious meal each day. This endeavor proved to be incredibly successful, particularly for children who do not have access to very much food at home. The movement for federal lunch programs for schools spawned programs like the Summer Food Service Program and the School Breakfast Program in later years.
Summer Food Service Program (SFSP) in Texas
In the summertime when school is no longer in session, the Summer Food Service Program, or SFSP, feeds low-income children in TX who may not have access to much nutrient rich foods at home. In terms of what is the Summer Food Service Program, it functions much in the same way that the National School Lunch Program and the School Breakfast Program do. SFSP provides free or reduced lunches to children who are participating.
The federal summer lunch program in Texas operates through several SFSP centers, which functions like a cafeteria for children who receive summer food benefits. “How can I participate in SFSP?” may be a question for child care providers interested in opening a free summer lunch program cafeteria site. For information on application forms and deadlines for the federal summer lunch program in TX, contact the Texas Department of Agriculture.