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
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 | Payment Accuracy and Program Integrity
Direct Certification in the National School Lunch Program: State Implementation Progress

This report responds to a requirement of Public Law 110-246 to assess the effectiveness of State and local efforts to conduct direct certification of children for free school meals. Under direct certification, children are determined eligible for free meals without the need for household applications by using data from other means-tested programs. The 2004 Child Nutrition and WIC Reauthorization Act requires local educational agencies (LEAs) to establish, by School Year 2008-2009, a system of direct certification of children from households that receive Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (formerly Food Stamp Program) benefits. The mandate is phased in over three years; the largest LEAs were required to establish direct certification systems for School Year 2006-2007. As of School Year 2007-2008, 67 percent of LEAs operated a direct certification system. Across all States, the 2007-2008 median direct certification rate of SNAP-participant children was 69 percent. This number is expected to increase sharply in School Year 2008-2009 as all LEAs become subject to the statutory mandate.

Resource | Research | Payment Accuracy and Program Integrity
Direct Certification in the National School Lunch Program: State Implementation Progress - Report to Congress

This report responds to the legislative requirement of Public Law 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. The 2004 Child Nutrition and WIC Reauthorization Act required local educational agencies (LEAs) to establish, by School Year 2008-2009, a system of direct certification of children from households that receive Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (formerly Food Stamp Program) benefits. The mandate was phased in over three years; the largest LEAs were required to establish direct certification systems first, by School Year (SY) 2006-2007. As of SY 2008-2009, all LEAs are subject to the mandate. Seventy-eight percent of LEAs directly certified SNAP-participating students in SY 2008-2009. These LEAs enroll 96 percent of all students in NSLP-participating schools. The median direct certification rate was 72 percent in SY 2008-2009. This is up from 69 percent in SY 2007-2008.

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 Public Law 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. The 2004 Child Nutrition and WIC Reauthorization Act required local educational agencies (LEAs) to establish a system of direct certification of children from households that receive Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits by School Year (SY) 2008-2009. In SY 2009-2010, 83 percent of LEAs directly certified participating SNAP students. These LEAs enroll 97 percent of all students in NSLP schools. States and LEAs directly certified 1.6 million more children at the start of SY 2009-2010 than they did a year earlier, a 24-percent increase. The percentage of SNAP participant children certified for free school meals without application increased slightly from 71 percent in SY 2008-2009 to 72 percent in SY 2009-2010.

Resource | Research | Assessing/Improving Operations
Child Nutrition Program Operations Study: Third Year Report

The Child Nutrition Program Operations Study was designed to collect data from States and participating SF As through annual telephone surveys during School Years (SY) 1988-89, 1989-90, and 1990-91 and through on-site visits during SY 1989-90 and 1991-92, with specific information needs for each data collection effort defined by FNS staff.

Resource | Research | Assessing/Improving Operations
Preliminary Report on the Feasibility of Computer Matching in the National School Lunch Program

The Child Nutrition and WIC Reauthorization Act of 2004 (PL 108-265) directed the Secretary of Agriculture to conduct a study of the feasibility of using computer technology (including data mining) to reduce over-certification, waste, fraud and abuse in the National School Lunch Program (NSLP). Prior to enactment of this legislation, USDA's Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) contracted with Abt Associates, Inc. to study the feasibility of expanding computer matching for certification of school meal benefits. This study draws on experts in data matching and privacy issues, and will survey state child nutrition directors, state education officials, and state Medicaid officials to learn about current computer matching capabilities and issues involved in expanding matching. A final report will be available in April 2006.

 

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

The National School Lunch Program (NSLP) and the School Breakfast Program (SBP) are central parts 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 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 failing to meet 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 status of this initiative, together with selected operational issues of these programs, are the principal subjects of this report.

Resource | Research | Demonstrations
Evaluation of the Nutrient Standard Menu Planning Demonstration

The National School Lunch Program (NSLP) and the School Breakfast Program (SBP) are administered by the Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). The NSLP operates in over 94,000 schools and institutions. More than 26 million children receive meals through the program on any given day; about half of these meals are provided free of charge. The SBP operates in approximately two-thirds of the schools and institutions that offer the NSLP, most commonly in schools that serve large numbers of economically disadvantaged children. On an average day, roughly seven million children receive breakfast through the SBP. The vast majority of these meals are provided free of charge. School Food Authorities (SFAs) participating in the NSLP and SBP receive two types of federal assistance: donated surplus commodities and cash reimbursements.

Resource | Research | Food/Nutrient Analysis
State Monitoring of National School Lunch Program Nutritional Content

This study was conducted within RAND's Center for the Study of Food and Nutrition Policy as part of RAND's Child Nutrition Analysis Project (CNAP) with the United States "Nutritional Monitoring Data". This document reports on the study of state nutritional monitoring data and should be of benefit to those interested in the operations of child nutrition programs.