This study provides national estimates of the food acquisitions of public unified school districts participating in the National School Lunch Program (NSLP) and School Breakfast Program (SBP). It describes the type, quantity, and value of foods purchased by public school districts and the relative importance of foods donated to these school districts by the US Department of Agriculture (USDA). The study also examines procurement practices and operating characteristics of these school districts and the relationship of these characteristics to food costs. Data were collected form a nationally representative sample of 324 unified public school districts during School Year 1996/97. Findings are compared to the results of a similar study conducted in SY 1984/85.