The Arkansas Department of Education Child Nutrition Unit (CNU) administers the National School Lunch Program, the School Breakfast Program, the Special Milk Program, the Afterschool Snack Program, the provides Seamless Summer Program and the Fresh Fruits and Vegetable Grants in the public schools in Arkansas.
The CNU provides technical assistance, training, monitoring, and processes claims for reimbursement of federal funds used in the operation of local school nutrition programs in accordance with U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) regulations.
The Child Nutrition Unit at the Division of Elementary and Secondary Education administers the following programs and initiatives:
1. National School Lunch Program
The National School Lunch Program, enacted in 1946 by President Harry Truman, is a federally assisted meal program operating in over 100,000 public and non‐profit private schools and residential childcare institutions. It provided nutritionally balanced, low‐cost or free lunches to more than 31 million children each school day in 2012. In 1998, Congress expanded the National School Lunch Program to include reimbursement for snacks served to children in afterschool educational and enrichment programs to include children through 18 years of age.
The Food and Nutrition Service administers the program at the Federal level. At the State level, the National School Lunch Program is usually administered by State education agencies, which operate the program through agreements with school food authorities.
Food and Nutrition Services, USDA, National School Lunch Program
2. School Breakfast Program
The School Breakfast Program is a federally assisted meal program operating in public and nonprofit private schools and residential childcare institutions. It began as a pilot project in 1966 and was made permanent in 1975. The School Breakfast Program is administered at the Federal level by the Food and Nutrition Service. At the State level, the program is usually administered by State education agencies, which operate the program through agreements with local school food authorities in more than 89,000 schools and institutions.
3. Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program
The Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program (FFVP) provides all children in participating schools with a variety of free fresh fruits and vegetables throughout the school day. It is an effective and creative way of introducing fresh fruits and vegetables as healthy snack options. The FFVP also encourages schools to develop partnerships at the State and local level for support in implementing and operating the program.
4. After School Snack Program
The National School Lunch Program offers cash reimbursement to help schools serve snacks to children in afterschool activities aimed at promoting the health and well being of children and youth in our communities. A school must provide children with regularly scheduled activities in an organized, structured and supervised environment; include educational or enrichment activities (e.g., mentoring or tutoring programs). Competitive interscholastic sports teams are not an eligible afterschool program. The programs must meet State/local licensing requirements, if available, or State/local health and safety standards. All programs that meet the eligibility requirements can participate in the National School Lunch Program and receive USDA reimbursement for afterschool snacks.
Food and Nutrition Services, USDA, Afterschool Snack Program
5. Seamless Summer and Other Options for Schools
Schools participating in the National School Lunch or School Breakfast Program are eligible to apply for the Seamless Summer Option.
Seamless Summer has less paperwork, making it easier for schools to feed children during the traditional summer vacation periods and, for year-round schools, long school vacation periods.
Once approved by the State agency, the school serves meals free of charge to children, including teenagers through age 18, under the school meal program rules.
Meals are reimbursed at the free rates for school lunches, school breakfasts, and afterschool snacks, which are slightly lower than the Summer Food Service Program rates.
Food and Nutrition Services, USDA, Seamless Summer Option