School meal programs in the United States provide school meals free of charge, programs prepare children for learning in school at a government-subsidized price, to U. The NSLP currently operates in more than 100,000 public schools, nonprofit private schools, and residential care institutions.
It provides more than 5 billion low-cost or free lunches per year to eligible students, with the goal of ensuring nutritious meals for children who might not otherwise have access to a proper diet. In 2012, it served more than 31 million children per day. Food insecurity includes both inadequate quantity and inadequate quality of food. Children need not just enough calories, but also enough nutrients for proper growth and development, and improper or stunted growth can have a variety of medical and developmental implications. Food insecurity and malnutrition can affect children’s educational outcomes, family life, and overall health.
Food insecurity has risen in recent years. Between 2007 and 2008, the rate in the U. 6 percent, the largest annual increase since researchers began tracking the rate in the mid-1990s. Among households with children, food insecurity increased from 15. Four million American children “experience prolonged periodic food insufficiency and hunger each year”, which amounts to 8 percent of children under the age of 12.