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 | Food/Nutrient Analysis
Nutrient and Food Group Analysis of USDA Foods in Five of its Food and Nutrition Programs - 2014

This study updates a 2009 analysis of the nutrient and food group content of the USDA Foods offered and delivered through Federal nutrition assistance programs. It examines the Child and Adult Care Feeding Program (CACFP), the Commodity Supplemental Food Program (CSFP), the Food Distribution Program on Indian Reservations (FDPIR), and The Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP) in fiscal year (FY) 2014 and the National School Lunch Program (NSLP) in school year (SY) 2013-2014. The study also estimated the Healthy Eating Index (HEI) scores under the HEI-2010 and the HEI-2005 scoring systems for each program’s benefits.

Resource | Research | Food/Nutrient Analysis
Diet Quality of Americans by SNAP Participation Status: Data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, 2007–2010

This report uses data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey to provide a comprehensive picture of the nutrient intakes, food choices, and diet quality of Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program participants, compared with income-eligible nonparticipants and higher-income nonparticipants.

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

This report summarizes findings from the fourth School Nutrition Dietary Assessment Study (SNDA-IV), which collected data from nationally representative samples of school districts and schools in school year (SY) 2009-10. As in prior studies, the nutrient content of the average meals offered and served in the Nation’s schools was compared with regulatory standards in effect at the time—the School Meal Initiative (SMI) nutrition standards—as well as selected recommendations included in the Dietary Guidelines for Americans. In January 2012, USDA issued new standards for school meals to be phased in over 3 years beginning in SY 2012-13. The data reported here thus serve as a marker of progress in achieving the SMI standards, and a baseline for measuring future improvements under the new standards. The study also collected information about the availability of competitive foods—foods sold in competition to USDA school meals through a la carte sales in cafeterias, vending machines, school stores, and other venues. Finally, the study collected data from a sample of elementary schools participating in the HealthierUS School Challenge (HUSSC) and compared them to elementary schools nationwide.

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
Estimated Retail Value of the Average FDPIR Food Package as Delivered in Fiscal Year 2009

This report estimates the retail value of the average Food Distribution Program on Indian Reservations (FDPIR) food package delivered to FDPIR participants in fiscal year (FY) 2009. The estimated retail value
of the average FDPIR food package as delivered in FY 2009 was $78.44 per month per FDPIR participant. The report’s retail price estimate probably understates the true retail value of the FDPIR food package
because the cost of food from retailers located on or near Indian reservations is likely above national average retail food costs. The average SNAP benefit per person in FY 2009 was $125.31 per month.

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

A key objective of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) for its National School Lunch Program (NSLP) and School Breakfast Program (SBP) is to ensure that children have access to healthy, well-balanced meals. The Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) of USDA 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. Students’ diets were assessed using the Dietary Reference Intakes (DRIs), the most up-to-date scientific standards for assessing dietary status.

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
Availability of Fresh Produce In Nutrition Assistance Programs

Fruit and vegetable consumption is an important component of a balanced diet consistent with the Dietary Guidelines for Americans and the Food Guide Pyramid. The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) promotes the increased consumption of fruits and vegetables, in all forms – fresh, frozen, canned, dried and juices, through its nutrition assistance programs.

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.