Students and their teacher eat lunch at a school in Eatonton, GA circa 1952. Courtesy, Georgia Archives, Vanishing Georgia Collection, put246.

“Whether or not a child is eligible for a free lunch is determined not by any universally accepted formula, but by local decisions about administration and financing which may or may not have anything to do with the need of the individual child. And generally speaking, the greater the need of children from a poor neighborhood, the less the community is able to meet it.” – Committee on School Lunch Participation, Their Daily Bread (1965).


Where is it located in the Museum?
Melson, J.H. “Superintendent of Troup County schools with a group of pupils at lunch time. Shown in the photo are (left to right), seated, Tommy Lloyd, Barbara Owens, William Owens, Jacqueline Simonton, Carolyn Melvin; standing, J. H. Melson.” Lamar Q. Ball Collection, ac. 0000-0075M, Georgia Archives.

The National Council on School Lunch Participation investigated the National School Lunch Program in the late 1960’s, estimating that fewer than two million of the 60 million children eligible for free or reduced-price lunch were receiving those meals, and concluding that “the school lunch program in fact [operated] for the benefit of the middle class” and contributed to racial discrimination and neglect of poor communities. New legislation resulting from the Council’s advocacy helped to establish stronger national standards of eligibility for free and reduced-price meals. 

Levine, Susan. School Lunch Politics: The Surprising History of America’s Favorite Welfare Program, (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2008): 134.

Poppendieck, Janet. Free for All: Fixing School Food in America (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2010), 60.

Where is it located in the Museum?

What were the structural limitations of the National School Lunch Program’s reach?