The National School Lunch Program:

Is It Working?

PAD-77-6: Published: Jul 26, 1977. Publicly Released: Jul 26, 1977.

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Office of Public Affairs
(202) 512-4800
youngc1@gao.gov

The National School Lunch Program is designed to safeguard schoolchild health by improving and/or maintaining levels of nutrition and to strengthen the agricultural economy by stimulating food demand.

The school lunch program provides adequately for the large-scale feeding of children, but it could be much more effective and efficient than it is. Although studies show that the school lunch, when paired with a nutritional supplement or with the school breakfast, can affect the nutritional levels of schoolchildren, their findings about how the lunch itself affects nutritionally deprived and nutritionally adequate participants are inconclusive. There are consistent indications that the program has strengthened overall demand for farm products, although the possibility of a conflict between the program's agricultural and nutritional provisions was noted. Shifting eating habits and needs over the past 30 years suggest that the program's objectives should be reassessed.

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