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Food and Nutrition Programs

Steps to become a sponsor in the National School Lunch Program

1. Inform yourself

The first step to taking on any new responsibility is to educate yourself. There are many ways that schools can offer meals to students. We want to expose you to a variety of meal service and administrative models so you can choose the one that works best for your school or district. Also operating the National School Lunch Program (NSLP) is a significant administrative task. We want to ensure you understand all aspects and requirements of the program before taking on this responsibility.

  • Start by taking our free online learning module: Nuts and Bolts of School Nutrition Programs On Demand: Introduction to School Nutrition Programs to get an overview of the program. Don't forget to save an electronic copy of your participation certificate.

  • Complete our New Sponsor Request Intake form: This will collect some basic information about you and your school which we will use to help guide you through the process.

  • Submit your "New Sponsor Request" to our office: Email the participation certificate from Introduction to School Nutrition Programs along with your New Sponsor Request Intake form to: .

  • Participate in a phone meeting: After you submit your New Sponsor Request, a representative from the Office for Food and Nutrition Programs will schedule a phone meeting to discuss your path to participation.

If you have specific questions about these initial steps please feel free to reach out to the Office for Food and Nutrition Programs (FNP) at or 781-338-6480.

2. Submit a letter of intent

After you have spoken with a member of FNP you will have a clear idea of what participation in the NSLP looks like for your school or district. You will be ready to officially begin the process of applying to be a Sponsor by mailing/emailing a letter stating your intent to participate in NSLP. This letter must be on official letterhead and signed by your superintendent. In this letter be sure to include the following information:

  • Which Child Nutrition Programs you would like to participate in.
  • List of location(s) where meals will be served.
  • Identify a main contact.

3. Complete Administrative Requirements

After your letter of intent is received you will receive a New Sponsor Application packet. This packet will contain a variety of forms that need to be completed and returned to our office. These forms will require that you coordinate with many different professionals in your district. As these documents are completed you will submit them to FNP for review and feedback.

4. Implement Food Service Plan

As the Administrative Requirements are completed you will now want to focus on implementing your plan to serve food. This step will look different for every school and will likely require a hiring process for new staff.

5. Serve Meals

When you are ready to serve meals, you can work with FNP to schedule a pre-approval visit. During this visit we will observe a meal service and ensure that everything is operating safely and smoothly. Once all the administrative requirements have been completed and a compliant meal service has been observed you are eligible to be approved as a Child Nutrition Program Sponsor. Once approved you will be able to submit claims for reimbursement for complete meals served to eligible students!

Take note: Reimbursement can not be provided for meals prior to your approval date. Please work with your FNP contact to ensure you understand when you can begin claiming for the meals that you serve.

Last Updated: September 21, 2020

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Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education
135 Santilli Highway, Everett, MA 02149

Voice: (781) 338-3000
TTY: (800) 439-2370


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