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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 | Notices

National School Lunch, Special Milk, and School Breakfast Programs, National Average Payments/Maximum Reimbursement Rates (July 1, 2021 - June 30, 2022)

This notice announces the annual adjustments to the national average payments, the amount of money the federal government provides states for lunches, afterschool snacks, and breakfasts served to children participating in the National School Lunch and School Breakfast Programs; to the maximum reimbursement rates, the maximum per lunch rate from federal funds that a state can provide a school food authority for lunches served to children participating in the National School Lunch Program; and to the rate of reimbursement for a half-pint of milk served to non-needy children in a school or institution that participates in the Special Milk Program for Children.

Resource | Research | Assessing/Improving Operations

Farm to School Census and Comprehensive Review

The Farm to School Census and Comprehensive Review includes the 2019 Farm to School Census; a descriptive review of the USDA Farm to School grant program; a review of published research on farm to school since 2010; and a set of interviews with school food distributors. 

Resource | Research | Payment Accuracy and Program Integrity

Regional Office Review of Application For School Meals 2009

This is the fifth in a series of annual reports that examines administrative error incurred during the local educational agency’s (LEA) approval process of applications for free and reduced-price meals in the National School Lunch Program (NSLP).

Resource | Research | Payment Accuracy and Program Integrity

Direct Certification in the National School Lunch Program: State Progress in Implementation Report to Congress

This report responds to the legislative requirement of PL 110-246 to assess the effectiveness of state and local efforts to directly certify children for free school meals. Under direct certification, children are determined eligible for free school meals without the need for household applications by using data from other means-tested programs.

Resource | Research | Assessing/Improving Operations

Feasibility of Wider Implementation of Direct Verification With Medicaid

To ensure program integrity, school districts must sample household applications certified for free or reduced-price meals, contact the households, and verify eligibility. This process (known as household verification) can be burdensome for both school officials and households. Direct verification uses information from certain other means-tested programs to verify eligibility without contacting applicants. Potential benefits include: less burden for households, less work for school officials, and fewer students with school meal benefits terminated because of nonresponse to verification requests.

Resource | Research | Assessing/Improving Operations

Developing and Evaluating Methods for Using American Community Survey Data to Support the School Meals Programs

This is a report of the National Academies' National Research Council, Committee on National Statistics. It is available here by permission. It may also be obtained through the National Research Council's website. An earlier, prepublication version was made available in May 2010, but should no longer be used.

Resource | Reimbursement Rates

National School Lunch, Special Milk, and School Breakfast Programs: National Average Payments/Maximum Reimbursement Rates (July 1, 2010 - June 30, 2011)

This Notice announces the annual adjustments to the "national average payments,'' the amount of money the federal government provides states for lunches, afterschool snacks and breakfasts served to children participating in the National School Lunch and School Breakfast Programs; to the "maximum reimbursement rates,'' the maximum per lunch rate from federal funds that a state can provide a school food authority for lunches served to children participating in the National School Lunch Program; and to the rate of reimbursement for a half-pint of milk served to non-needy children in a school or institution which participates in the Special Milk Program for Children.

Resource | Research | Assessing/Improving Operations

Selecting Policy Indicators And Developing Simulation Models for the National School Lunch and Breakfast Programs

The third School Nutrition Dietary Assessment Study provides the most comprehensive measurement available of: (a) the nutritional quality of reimbursable meals served in the National School Lunch and Breakfast programs, (b) the nutritional quality of the breakfasts and lunches consumed by children who participate in these programs, and (c) student participation rates. The study data enable analyses of school meal policies that were not previously possible. This report describes exploratory work to develop a simulation model to predict the potential implications of changes that may be coming in policies and practices related to school meals and school food environments.

Resource | Research | Food/Nutrient Analysis

School Meals Building Blocks for Healthy Children

USDA requested that the committee provide recommendations for the updating and revision of the Nutrition Standards and Meal Requirements for the school lunch and breakfast programs. The committee was asked to (1) outline the proposed criteria and process to be used to develop recommended revisions to the Nutrition Standards and Meal Requirements for both meal programs, (2) discuss how the concepts presented in Institute of Medicine reports and focused on the application of Dietary Reference Intakes to planning and assessment will be applied to school meals in Phase II, and (3) propose plans for undertaking a sensitivity analysis and for considering cost implications and market effects.