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 | 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 Lunch Salad Bars

This report fulfills a request to the Department of Agriculture (USDA) from the Appropriations Committee Directives, Fiscal Year 2002. As requested, this report compares the availability of fruits and vegetables in schools with and without salad bars using data from the School Nutrition Dietary Assessment Study, Part II (SNDA-II), which were collected during the School Year (SY) 1998-99. SNDA-II data enables us to examine the choice and variety of foods offered at salad bars, but not the quantity in a typical serving or the amount consumed.

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.