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Child Nutrition Program Operations Study, School Year 2017-18

Resource type
Research type
Assessing/Improving Operations
Resource Materials
PDF Icon Final Report (2.54 MB)
PDF Icon Summary (193.51 KB)

The Child Nutrition Program Operations Study is a multiyear study series that provides the USDA's Food and Nutrition Service with current information on National School Lunch Program and School Breakfast Program policies, practices and needs from state agencies and school food authorities (SFAs). Specifically, it covers policies related to school nutrition service operations, financial management, meal counting, eligibility, nutrition standards and personnel. Results inform Child Nutrition program management and policy development. This study in the series covers school year (SY) 2017–18.

Key findings:
  • USDA meal reimbursements accounted for nearly two-thirds of SFAs' annual revenues in SY 2016–17, while labor and food costs accounted for 80 percent of expenditures.
  • The average price SFAs charged students for a paid lunch increased from $2.49 in SY 2015–16 to $2.63 in SY 2017–18.
  • Among the 47 percent of SFAs that tracked unpaid meal charges and reported any money owed in SY 2016–17, the median SFA was owed approximately $1,500 total.
  • 28 percent of SFAs ever requested an exemption from the whole grain-rich requirement.
  • Eight percent of SFAs requested an exemption to serve flavored, low-fat (1%) milk in SY 2017–18.
  • 26 percent of SFAs used an exception to the Buy American provision in SY 2017–18.
Page updated: December 06, 2022