The National School Lunch Program feeds millions of children each day, and it maintains a connection to nearly every American family. What began in 1946 as a way to strengthen the nation through better nutrition for school children soon became a complicated program administered by local, state, and federal partners with competing interests. The story behind this initiative is one of twists and turns, as the program has evolved to meet the changing needs of children, politicians, and corporate interests.
Food, Power, and Politics: The Story of School Lunch examines the National School Lunch Program’s complicated past, with a focus on people and events in Georgia. The exhibit features historic images depicting schools and children in Georgia dating back to the 1920s as well as related ephemera, including lunch pails, sample menus, and classroom activity packets. Letters, speeches, and publications document the legislative battle to create and expand the program from the 1940s to the 1990s, complemented by video and oral histories.
This exhibit was developed by the Richard B. Russell Library for Political Research and Studies to celebrate the Library’s 40th anniversary in 2014. Senator Richard B. Russell, Jr. authored the original legislation establishing the National School Lunch Program and ensured its passage through both houses of Congress. He often said the creation of this program was his proudest accomplishment during his long career in the U.S. Senate.