Resource | Research | Assessing/Improving Operations
School Nutrition and Meal Cost Study

This study is the first nationally representative, comprehensive assessment of the school meal programs since the updated nutrition standards for school meals were phased in beginning School Year 2012-2013. A study methodology report that describes the study design, sampling and data collection and a Summary Report that provides a brief overview of the study and key findings from the various reports are also available.

Resource | Research | Assessing/Improving Operations
Direct Certification in the National School Lunch Program Report to Congress: State Implementation Progress, School Year 2014-2015

This report responds to the requirement of PL 110-246 to assess the effectiveness of state and local efforts to directly certify children for free school meals. Direct certification is a process conducted by the states and by local educational agencies to certify eligible children for free meals without the need for household applications. 

Resource | Research | Assessing/Improving Operations
Regional Office Review of Applications (RORA) for School Meals 2015

This is the 11th in a series of annual reports that examines the administrative accuracy of eligibility determinations and benefit issuance for free or reduced-price meals in the National School Lunch Program.

Resource | Research | Assessing/Improving Operations
Regional Office Review of Applications (RORA) for School Meals 2014

This is the tenth in a series of annual reports to examine administrative errors incurred during the local educational agency’s (LEA) approval process of household applications for free and reduced-price meals in the National School Lunch Program (NSLP). This report examines administrative error estimates in student certification for free and reduced-price NSLP meals.

Resource | Research | Assessing/Improving Operations
Program Error in the NSLP and SBP: Findings from the Second Access, Participation, Eligibility and Certification Study (APEC II)

FNS developed the Access, Participation, Eligibility and Certification (APEC) study series, which collects and analyzes data from a nationally representative sample of schools and school food authorities (SFAs) about every 5 years. APEC allows FNS to develop a national estimate of erroneous payment rates and amounts in three key areas: certification error, meal claiming error and aggregation error.  FNS recently completed APEC II, which collected data in School Year 2012-2013 and this report summarizes those findings.

Resource | Research | Food/Nutrient Analysis
Evaluation of the Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program: Interim Report

The Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program (FFVP) aims to increase fruit and vegetable consumption among students in the Nation’s poorest elementary schools by providing free fresh fruits and vegetables to students outside of regular school meals. FFVP began as a pilot program in 2002 and was converted into a nationwide program in the Food, Conservation, and Energy Act of 2008, also known as the Farm Bill (PL 110-234). The results presented in this interim report, for the 2010-2011 school year, focus on the total quantity of fruits and vegetables consumed and total energy intake (also referred to as total caloric intake), allowing the assessment of whether any additional fruit and vegetable consumption was in addition to or in place of other foods consumed.

Resource | Research | Food/Nutrient Analysis
School Nutrition Dietary Assessment Study - III

FNS  sponsored the third SNDA study to provide up-to-date information on the school meal programs, the school environment that affects the programs, the nutrient content of school meals, and the contributions of school meals to students’ diets. Data were collected from a nationally representative sample of districts, schools, and students in school year (SY) 2004-2005. The nutrient content of school meals offered and served was compared to USDA’s current regulatory standards.

Resource | Research | Assessing/Improving Operations
School Meals Initiative Implementation Study: Third Year Report

The National School Lunch Program (NSLP) and the School Breakfast Program (SBP) are key components of a national policy designed to safeguard and promote the nutritional well-being of the Nation’s children. The programs are administered by the Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), operating through state agencies (SAs) that have agreements with the local school systems in their States. Despite the progress that has been achieved over the years in enhancing the quality of school meals, results of research conducted in the early 1990s indicated that school meals, on balance, were failing to meet certain key nutritional goals. In light of these findings, the USDA launched a far-reaching reform of the school meals programs, a reform aimed at upgrading the nutritional content of school meals. The reform began in late 1993 with public hearings followed by a proposed rule in 1994 and a final rule in 1995. The several elements of this reform are collectively referred to as the School Meals Initiative for Healthy Children (SMI). The status of this initiative, together with an examination of selected operational issues of these programs, are the principal subjects of this report.

Resource | Research | Food/Nutrient Analysis
School Nutrition Dietary Assessment Study - II

This report summarizes findings of the second School Nutrition Dietary Assessment Study (SNDA-II). The study provides up-to-date information on the nutritional quality of meals served in public schools that participate in the National School Lunch Program (NSLP) and the School Breakfast Program (SBP). The last nationally representative study of the NSLP and SBP, SNDA-I, was completed in school year (SY) 1991-92. SNDA-I confirmed that school meals met a variety of important nutrition goals. However, the study also found that school lunches were not consistent with Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommendations for total fat and saturated fat intake. At the time, school food service programs were not required to offer meals that were consistent with the Dietary Guidelines.

Resource | Research | Food/Nutrient Analysis
Children's Diet in the Mid-1990's: Dietary Intake and Its Relationship with School Meal Participation

This report is the first of two reports on the nutrition of children using findings from the analysis of the 1994-1996 Continuing Survey of Food Intake by Individuals (CSFII). The key objectives of the overall study are to describe the diets of school-aged U.S. children as of the mid-1990s, examine relationships between children’s participation in the school meal programs and their dietary intake, and examine changes in intake between the periods 1989-1991 and 1994-1996. This first report describes children’s mean food and nutrient intake, reports the percentage meeting various dietary standards, and compares the diets of participants and nonparticipants in the school meal programs. A second report focuses on changes between the early and mid-1990s in the dietary intake of children.