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 | Participation Rates
Reaching Those in Need: State Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program Participation Rates in 2010

This report – the latest in an annual series – presents estimates of the percentage of eligible persons, by State, who participated in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) during an average month in fiscal year 2010 and in the 2 previous fiscal years. This report also presents estimates of State participation rates for eligible “working poor” individuals (persons in households with earnings) over the same period. Although SNAP provides an important support for working families, the working poor has participated at rates that are substantially below those for all eligible persons.

Resource | Research | Participation Rates
Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program Participation Rates: Fiscal Year 2010

This report is the latest in a series on SNAP participation rates. Estimates are based on the March 2011 Current Population Survey and program administrative data for Fiscal Year (FY) 2010. The findings represent participation rates for FY 2010.

Resource | Research | Payment Accuracy and Program Integrity
Direct Certification in the National School Lunch Program: State Implementation Progress School Year 2011-2012: Report to Congress

Student eligibility for free meals is determined by application or by direct certification. Although direct certification systems vary by State and LEA, all such systems are designed to eliminate the need for paper applications. Effective in SY 2011-2012, LEAs must conduct direct certification three times per year: once at or around the start of the school year, and again three and six months after that initial effort. All direct certification systems now match student enrollment lists against SNAP agency records and the records of other assistance agencies whose participants are categorically eligible for free meals. The matching process, whether automated or manual, requires no action by the children’s parents or guardians.

Resource | Research | Assessing/Improving Operations
Building a Healthy America: A Profile of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program

As the time for reauthorization of SNAP again approaches, it is useful to take stock of its accomplishments, identify those features that have contributed to its success, and look for new opportunities to strengthen operations to achieve program goals more fully. To that end, this is a summary of past research on program operations and outcomes.

Resource | Research | Promoting Healthy Eating
Characteristics and Dietary Patterns of Healthy and Less-Healthy Eaters in the Low-Income Population

The diets of most Americans fall short of the Dietary Guidelines for Americans. This exploratory analysis examines dietary patterns of low-income individuals classified as healthy and less healthy eaters based on their score on the Healthy Eating Index (HEI)-2005. The HEI-2005 is a 100-point score that measures how well populations adhere to the Dietary Guidelines for Americans. 

Resource | Research | Breastfeeding
Evaluation of the Birth Month Breastfeeding Changes to the WIC Food Packages

The Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) has been providing nutritious foods, nutrition education, breastfeeding support, and health referral services to low-income mothers and their children for over 30 years. In 2006 the Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) asked the Institute of Medicine (IOM) to review the WIC food packages. The IOM proposed major changes to improve nutrition and encourage breastfeeding but also expressed the concern that changes related to partial breastfeeding may have unintended consequences. The IOM recommended that FNS conduct an impact study evaluating the birth month breastfeeding changes to the WIC food packages. This study responds to that recommendation.

Resource | Research | Food/Nutrient Analysis
Nutrient and MyPyramid Analysis of USDA Foods in Five of Its Food and Nutrition Programs

Through its food distribution programs, USDA purchases a variety of food including fruits, vegetables, meat, grains, and dairy products for distribution directly to needy households or for use in congregate feeding programs that help Americans obtain access to nutritious food and support American agriculture. These USDA Foods are distributed to help supplement the diets of: children participating in the National School Lunch Program (NSLP) and Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP), women, infants, children, and elderly participating in the Commodity Supplemental Food Program (CSFP), low-income Native Americans participating in the Food Distribution Program on Indian Reservations (FDPIR), and needy individuals seeking assistance from food pantries and soup kitchens and participating in The Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP). This report contains nutrient and food group analyses of the USDA Foods distributed through the NSLP, CACFP, CSFP, FDPIR, and TEFAP in Fiscal Year (FY) 2009.