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Child Nutrition Programs

Child Nutrition Program Overview Resource (PDF)

School Nutrition Programs

National School Lunch Program (NSLP)

The National School Lunch Program (NSLP), established in 1946, is the oldest and largest of the Child Nutrition Programs. It is a federal meal program that provides nutritious, low-cost or free lunches to students each day. All students can participate, but certain eligibility requirements allow students to get a free or reduced-price meal based on their family’s income or participation in certain federal assistance programs. Students that do not qualify for free or reduced-price meals pay for breakfasts or lunches. School food authorities receive a per meal federal reimbursement for each reimbursable meal served. Specific meal patterns and nutrition standards are required in the National School Lunch Program and are based on the latest Dietary Guidelines for Americans.

U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) NSLP

Colorado's Child Nutrition Lunch Protection Act

In 2008, Senate Bill 08-123 eliminated the $0.40 co-payment for reduced-price lunch paid by families for students in grades pre-K through 12. School food authorities may not charge reduced-price students for lunch. CDE School Nutrition reimburses eligible SFAs an additional $0.40 in state funds for every reduced-price lunch claimed. View more about the child nutrition lunch protection act (PDF)

Student Smiling with Lunch Tray

School Breakfast Program (SBP)

The School Breakfast Program (SBP) provides a nutritious morning meal. This program is recognized as one of the most beneficial of the federal nutrition programs. SBP meets a vital need of feeding thousands of students each day, who might otherwise not eat a nutritious breakfast. Participation in the program has been shown to improve learning and test performance. Specific meal patterns are required in the SBP.  School food authorities that participate in the SBP receive funding assistance similar to the National School Lunch Program.

Colorado's Smart Start Nutrition Program

In 2007, Senate Bill 07-059 eliminated the $.30 co-payment for reduced-price breakfast paid by families for students in all grades. CDE School Nutrition reimburses eligible School Food Authorities (SFAs) an additional $.30 in state funds for every reduced-price breakfast claimed. View more about the smart start nutrition program (PDF)

Breakfast after the Bell Program (BABNP)

House Bill 13-1006 was passed in Colorado, creating the Breakfast After the Bell Nutrition Program. The purpose of the program is to offer a breakfast at no charge to each student enrolled in a public school that has seventy percent or more students who are eligible for free or reduced price meals under the National School Lunch Program.

U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) School Breakfast Program

Student smiling with eating school lunch

Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program (FFVP)

The Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program (FFVP) provides children in participating schools with a variety of free fresh fruits and vegetables throughout the school day.  The program is an effective and creative way of introducing fresh fruits and vegetables as healthful snack options, and is seen as an important catalyst for change in efforts to combat childhood obesity by helping children learn more healthful eating habits. The FFVP introduces school children to a variety of produce that they otherwise might not have had the opportunity to sample. The FFVP also encourages schools to develop partnerships at the state and local level for support in implementing and operating the program. 

U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program

Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program - Logo Small

Afterschool Snack Program (ASP)

The intent of the Afterschool Snack Program (ASP) is to assist schools that operate organized programs of care, which include education and enrichment activities known to help reduce or prevent children’s involvement in juvenile crime or other high risk behavior, by providing snacks. Eligible programs serving snacks to children that meet USDA requirements may be claimed for reimbursement.

U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Afterschool Snack Program

Young kids eating grapes

Special Milk Program (SMP)

The Special Milk Program (SMP)

 offers milk to children who do not have access to other federal child nutrition programs. This includes preschool and kindergarten children attending split-session schools or children attending summer or year-round camps. Participating schools and institutions receive financial assistance for each half-pint of milk served.

U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Special Milk Program

Teenagers selecting milk at school

Provisional Programs: Provision 2 and Community Eligibility Program (CEP)

The intent of provisional programs: provision 2 and community eligibility program (CEP) is to improve access to free school meals in high poverty local education agencies (LEAs)and schools. A school participating in Provision 2 or the Community Eligibility Provision (CEP) must serve National School Lunch Program and/or School Breakfast Program meals to all participating children, at no charge, for up to four consecutive years.   Benefits from these provisional programs include increased participation, reduced stigma, simplified food nutrition operations and reduced unpaid meal charges. Provision 2 federal reimbursement is based on meal claiming percentages determined during the base year. CEP federal reimbursement is based on percentages of identified students who are directly certified.

U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Provisional Programs

Student eating a sandwich at school lunch

Local Food Program

With the passage of Colorado HB-1132 during the 2019 legislative session, the Local Food Program will offer selected School Food Authorities (SFAs) a reimbursement for the purchase of Colorado grown, raised, or processed products. This program encourages SFAs to procure local products, foster nutrition education, bolster farm to child nutrition activities, and support Colorado producers and farmers.

View more about the local purchasing program on the Farm to School and Summer webpage.

Summer Nutrition Programs

Summer Food Service Program (SFSP)

The Summer Food Service Program (SFSP) 

provides nutritious meals to children 18 years and younger during the summer or other continuous school calendar vacation programs. Free meals are provided to all children at approved SFSP sites in areas with significant concentrations of low-income children. SFSP sponsoring organizations are operated by public and private nonprofit school food authorities, public or private, nonprofit residential and nonresidential camps, local, municipal, county or state governments, public or private colleges or universities participating in the National Youth Sports Program and private, nonprofit organizations.

U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Summer Food Service Program

Young girl eating watermelon

Seamless Summer Option (SSO)

The Seamless Summer Option (SSO) allows school food authorities participating in the National School Lunch or School Breakfast Programs to provide free summer meals to children in low income areas during the traditional summer vacation periods and, for year-round schools, during school vacation periods longer than 15 school days (or for breaks of shorter periods of time if approved by the CDE Office of School Nutrition). The SSO is designed to allow SFAs to continue the same meal service rules and claiming procedures used during the regular school year. Site designations for the SSO are similar to those for the Summer Food Service Program (SFSP) and the same NSLP and SBP rules apply for meal service. Meals served are reimbursed at the NSLP and/or SBP free rates.

U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Seamless Summer Option