Child nutrition and schools


Three photos, left to right: A stack of lunch trays in a cafeteria; three apples with the words "school lunch" displayed; a young boy smiling and carrying a tray of food

National School Lunch Program

The National School Lunch Program (NSLP), established under the National School Lunch Act in 1946, is a federally assisted meal program operating in public and nonprofit private schools and residential child care institutions. Every school day, the NSLP serves nutritious meals to more than 28 million low-income children nationwide. In addition to financial assistance, the program provides donated commodity foods to help reduce lunch program costs.

For children, the NSLP provides nutritious meals that contain one-third of the recommended dietary allowance of necessary nutrients. For parents, the program a convenient method of providing a nutritionally balanced lunch at the lowest possible price. And for schools, it enhances children's learning abilities by contributing to their physical and mental well being. Studies have shown that children whose nutritional needs are met have fewer attendance and discipline problems and are more attentive in class.

In addition to financial assistance, the program provides donated commodity foods to help reduce lunch program costs.

Summer Food Service Program

The Summer Food Service Program (SFSP) is the sister program to the NSLP. Just because the school year may have ended, the need for good nutrition for school-age children hasn't. The SFSP provides good, nutritious food that's "in" when school is "out." This program was created to ensure that children in low-income areas could continue to receive nutritious meals during long school vacations when they do not have access to school lunch or breakfast.

Child and Adult Care Food Program

The Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP) provides USDA Foods to agencies that contribute to the wellness, healthy growth, and development of young children, and the health and wellness of older adults and chronically impaired disabled persons.

DoD Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program

The Department of Defense (DoD) Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program was created as part of an initiative by the U.S. Department of Agriculture to offer schools a wider variety of fresh produce. Learn more about the program here.

Resources for child nutrition and school programs

Calculators and SEPDS forms

Manufacturer SEPDS forms are available where provided.

Calculators 2025

SEPDS Forms 2025

CDHS Vendor Contracts

The contracts listed below have been extended and are currently effective through June 30, 2024.

Processing Resources

The USDA Commodity Processing program allows State distributing agencies and eligible recipient agencies such as schools participating in the NSLP to contract with commercial food processors to divert bulk or raw USDA commodities to processing partners to convert into convenient, ready-to-use products. For information about Commodity Processing, click on the links below:

NSLP Resources
NSLP Training

Below are educational and training resources to guide you through Food Distribution, USDA Holds and Recalls, and WBSCM information.

Training Modules:


Webinar Slides:

Job Aids                                 

Food Distribution Advisory Committee

The Colorado Food Distribution Advisory Committee was established in 2012.  Food Distribution Advisory Council membership is voluntary and is comprised of School Food Service representatives from diverse geographic regions and program size representation. Visit the Food Distribution Advisory Committee page to learn more.