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. 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 | Assessing/Improving Operations
Measuring Competitive Foods in Schools

There has been growing concern about the sale in schools of foods with limited nutritional value. Of particular concern is the availability to school children of “competitive foods,” a term that includes a wide range of foods that do not qualify as reimbursable meals under the National School Lunch Program or the School Breakfast Program. Such foods can often be obtained from a la carte cafeteria sales, vending machines, and
school stores. While the widespread availability of competitive foods is well documented (Wechsler et al, 2001), there is relatively little detailed data on the amounts of various types of competitive foods that are sold in schools or about their nutrient content. Such information is needed to estimate the full prevalence of competitive food sales and to determine the types of changes and approaches needed to facilitate change. This “briefing report” summarizes research recently undertaken for the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Food and Nutrition Service to develop a methodological basis for obtaining detailed information on the competitive foods sold in schools.

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 | Assessing/Improving Operations
School Meals Initiative Implementation Study: First Year Report

The National School Lunch Program (NSLP) and the School Breakfast Program (SBP) are central parts of a national policy designed to safeguard the nutritional well-being of the Nation’s children. The programs are administered by the Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) of the United States 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 not meeting certain key nutritional goals. In late 1993, the USDA launched a far-reaching reform of the school meals programs, a reform aimed at upgrading the nutritional content of school meals. The several elements of this reform are collectively referred to as the School Meals Initiative for Healthy Children (SMI), the principal subject of this report.

Resource | Research | Assessing/Improving Operations
Eating Breakfast: Effects of the School Breakfast Program

The analysis conducted in this study builds on these two strands of the literature and uses three alternate definitions of breakfast: Consumption of any food or beverage. Breakfast intake of food energy greater than 10 percent of the Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA). Consumption of foods from at least two of five main food groups and intake of food energy greater than 10 percent of the RDA. As the definition of breakfast becomes more robust, the percentage of students who eat breakfast declines. Almost 9 of 10 students consumed any food or beverage, but only 6 of 10 students consumed food from at least two of the main food groups and had breakfast intake of food energy greater than 10 percent of the RDA.