“The right of every American school child to at least one square meal a day regardless of economic status of his parents requires no defense in logic or justice at a time when our nation is fighting for the survival of democracy.” M. F. Dickinson, National Farmers’ Union (1941)
Reflecting a popular consensus that fighting childhood hunger was a crucial part of national defense, Congress passed legislation in 1943 to protect school lunch programs, increasing federal support. Eager to maximize the efficiency and nutrition of the food provided to American troops during the war, the government adopted a set of recommended daily allowances of seven major food groups known as the “Basic 7,” requiring school menus to structure their programs around them.
What were the origins of the National School Lunch Program?
Galleries & Exhibits
- 11865-1925: Hunger in the Industrial City
- 21929-1940: America in Crisis and Recovery
- 31945-1965: WWII and the Paradoxes of the Postwar Era
- 41955-1980: The Fight for the Right to Food
- 51975-1996: The Unmaking of the Great Society
- 61997-Present: How It Is — And How It Should Be