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Peer Review

As required under the Office of Management and Budget's "Final Information Quality Bulletin for Peer Review," released Dec. 16, 2004, the Food and Nutrition Service reviews its study and evaluation plans to determine whether any projects currently planned or underway meet the Bulletin's standards for "highly influential scientific assessments" or "influential scientific information."

The agency has concluded from its most recent review that is not currently preparing or sponsoring any "highly influential scientific assessments." Five current projects are expected to yield "influential scientific information." Peer review plans for these projects are linked below:

Title: Evaluation of SNAP Employment and Training (E&T) Pilots

The Agriculture Act of 2014 (PL 113-79, Section 4022) authorized USDA to enter into cooperative agreements with state agencies to carry out pilot projects designed to raise employment, increase earnings, and reduce reliance on public assistance, including the benefits provided by SNAP. This study is an independent evaluation of these projects designed to determine differences in employment, earnings, and public assistance expenditures between those who receive the pilot services offered and a control group that does not receive such services, in order to identify the most effective interventions for wider implementation.

Title:  Survey of Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and Work

Moving SNAP participants to self-sufficiency is a major Agency priority.  However, little is known about the types of jobs held by SNAP participants or the work histories of both the employed and those not currently working. This study will develop and conduct a nationally representative survey of SNAP participants 18 to 69 years to better understanding their current and past work experience, education level, language skills, military service, and barriers to work (including disability). The survey will include participants from all 50 states and the District of Columbia and have a large enough sample to produce state-level estimates. Results will be used to inform employment and training strategies, and may be useful in ensuring that SNAP customer service meets the needs of the working poor.

Title: Summer Food Service Program Participant Characteristics and Meal Analysis of Quality

The Summer Food Service Program Participant Characteristics and Meal Analysis of Quality Study (SFSP PC-MAQ) is designed to provide a comprehensive, up-to-date understanding of sponsor, site, and household-level participation in the Summer Food Service Program and the National School Lunch Program’s Seamless Summer Option. Unique to this study is the household level data on why families do or do not participate in summer meal programs and their satisfaction with the programs. The study will also provide nationally representative data on the motivators and barriers to preparing and serving summer meals; meal service characteristics; the nutritional quality of meals offered; and reasons for discontinuing program participation among former sponsors. This is the first national study to simultaneously examine the facilitators and barriers to program participation among caregivers of participants and nonparticipants, as well as examine site and sponsor characteristics and meal quality, shedding light on how program characteristics impact participation and household satisfaction with the program.

Title: WIC Cost Containment Study

This study will examine methods used by states to contain costs and their relative effectiveness.[1]  There have been major changes to the program since the last comprehensive study on this topic was published in 2003. These include substantial revisions to food packages, expansion of EBT, and improvements in vendor management such as use of peer groups. This study will provide a national picture of the use of various cost containment practices; help identify advanced approaches to develop competitive price and reimbursement rules that could be adopted by states; and examine their possible impact on program cost, food instrument redemption rates, and variety of foods selected by participants. Results would be used to identify and disseminate best practices to move states to improve performance.

Title: National Survey of WIC Participants-III

This periodic study is the major source of information on a number of important program issues, including the program’s rate of certification error and the percent of WIC participants receiving other program benefits. There have been significant program changes since the last data collection, including changes in the food packages, an increased reliance on EBT, and availability of the option for 12-month child certification. This project will update the study design, data collection instruments, and report elements based on stakeholder input, field the data collection, and analyze the data to meet the broadest range of WIC information needs.  

Title: Farm to School Census Report

Farm to School programs aim to strengthen knowledge about agriculture, food, nutrition, and the environment; increase children’s consumption of fruits and vegetables; increase opportunities for farmers and other food producers; and support economic development. This census study will provide information on the magnitude of local sourcing procurement and the prevalence of other farm to school activities.

Title: Process and Use of the WIC Nutrition Risk Assessment and Tailoring Study

Women and children enrolling in WIC undergo a nutrition risk assessment that includes the collection of dietary, anthropometric, and health information. The goal of the assessment is to identify nutritional risks and to enhance the service and support provided by WIC in order to improve the health and development of program participants. This project will use qualitative and quantitative methods to examine how local WIC agencies use nutrition risk assessment information to deliver program benefits, including the tailoring of food packages and nutrition education, and how the process used is associated with dietary and health outcomes, the clinic experience, and retention in WIC. The findings of this study will be used to develop guidance for WIC staff to enhance service delivery that improves program retention and the nutrition and health of women and children who participate in WIC.

Title: School Nutrition and Meal Cost Study-2

This comprehensive study, the next in a series, will examine the following: 1) food pattern and nutritional quality of the meals offered and purchased at school; 2) plate waste; 3) the school nutrition environment; 4) school food service operations; 5) cost to produce school meals, as well as 6) student participation; 7) characteristics of the school lunch and breakfast programs; and 8) satisfaction and attitudes regarding the school lunch and breakfast programs. Information on dietary intake and body mass index will be collected from a subsample of students. Primary data collection will occur by school year (SY) 2019-2020 and will provide new information on implementation of the 2012 updated school meals nutrition standards, first assessed in SNMCS-1 during SY 2014-2015. The study will include estimates of the cost to prepare school meals for the non-contiguous portions of the United States.

Title: Study of Nutrition and Wellness Quality in Child Care Settings

(Sec. 223 of PL 111-296)
Required by Section 223 of the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010, the study is a national study of child care centers and family or group day care homes that includes an assessment of (1) the nutritional quality of all foods provided to children in child care settings as compared to the recommendations in most recent Dietary Guidelines for Americans, (2) the quantity and type of opportunities for physical activity provided to children in child care settings; (3) the quantity of time spent by children in child care settings in sedentary activities; and (4) an assessment of barriers and facilitators to nutritional and wellness quality.  In addition, the study will subsample providers participating in the Child and Adult Care Food Program so all analyses can be conducted separately for CACFP. The CACFP-focused analysis will also provide a cost analysis to determine the cost of providing meals and snacks in CACFP.

Title: Study of Nutrition and Wellness Quality in Child Care Settings-2

The first study on Nutrition and Wellness Quality in Child Care Settings (SNACS) was awarded in 2015 to 1) assess nutrition and wellness policies/practices and meal quality for infants and children in Child and Adult Care Feeding Program (CACFP) child care settings; 2) describe food and nutrient intakes of infants and children in CACFP child care centers and outside of child care; 3) determine the meal costs and revenues in CACFP child care centers; and 4) describe and assess plate waste in CACFP child care centers. Data were collected before implementation of the updated CACFP meal standards. This project proposes an update of SNACS and the first data collection after implementation of the new nutrition standards for CACFP. Data collection would occur in school year (SY) 2021/2022.

Title: WIC Infant and Toddler Feeding Practices Study-2 Interim and Final Reports

A national, longitudinal data collection regarding contemporary WIC infant and toddler feeding practices, including the duration of breastfeeding, the age and pattern of introduction of foods other than breast milk or formula, and the age of introduction of cow’s milk. The study is examining the influences that shape a mother’s infant and toddler feeding decisions and describing the changes in feeding practices as the children develop. This study also collects information on nutrition education, breastfeeding promotion, and support provided to participants.

Completed Peer Review Plans and Reports
Contact Information

Richard Lucas, FNS Peer Review Official
Deputy Administrator for Policy Support
3101 Park Center Drive
Alexandria, VA 22302
Phone: (703) 305-2017

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