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 | Participation Characteristics
Characteristics of Food Stamp Households: Fiscal Year 2007

On an average month in 2007, about 26.5 million people living in 11.8 million households participated in the Food Stamp Program in the United States. On October 1, 2008, the Food Stamp Program will change its name to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program. Food stamp households are a diverse group. Because food stamp benefits are available to most low-income households with few resources, regardless of age, disability status, or family structure, recipients represent a broad cross-section of the Nation's poor. This report provides information about the demographic and economic circumstances of food stamp households in fiscal year 2007. Annual quality control data used to produce this report can be found using the link below.

Resource | Research | Promoting Healthy Eating
FDPIR Food Package Nutritional Quality: Report to Congress

This report, required under the 2008 Farm Bill, reviews the nutritional quality of the food package provided through USDA’s Food Distribution Program on Indian Reservations (FDPIR), comparing its content to scientific standards including the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, the Dietary Reference Intakes (DRIs), the Thrifty Food Plan nutrient standards and the Healthy Eating Index-2005. The FDPIR food package provides a nutritious variety of foods, and sufficient calories to meet the energy needs of most sedentary individuals and many moderately active children. While, similar to American diets in general, there is room for improvement in the quantities of fruits, vegetables, low-fat dairy products and whole grains, the nutritional content of the package is considerable. Individuals consuming FDPIR foods in the quantities provided would achieve a HEI-2005 score of 81 out of 100, considerably better than Americans in general (58 out of 100) and SNAP participants (52 out of 100). The efforts of the FDPIR Food Package Review Work Group, a partnership between FNS and the American Indian community to improve the food package, have contributed to the package’s quality.

Resource | Research | Participation Rates
Reaching Those in Need: State Food Stamp Participation Rates in 2006

This report – the latest in an annual series – presents estimates of the percentage of eligible persons, by State, who participated in the Food Stamp Program (FSP) during an average month in fiscal year 2006 and in each of 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 the FSP provides an important support for working families, the working poor have participated at rates that are substantially below those for all eligible persons. The addition of State-by-State information on participation among the working poor enables a comparison of these rates to the overall participation rates. Nationally, the participation rate among all eligible persons was 67 percent in fiscal year 2006. The participation rate for eligible working poor individuals was 57 percent, a significant difference of 10 percentage points.

Resource | Research | Study & Evaluation Plan
Study and Evaluation Plan (2008)

The Food and Nutrition Service conducts a variety of studies, evaluations, and related activities that respond to the needs of policy makers and managers and help ensure that nutrition assistance programs achieve their goals effectively. These plans provide short descriptions of projects that have been or will be funded in each fiscal year.

Resource | Research | Payment Accuracy and Program Integrity
Accuracy of LEA Processing of School Lunch Applications-Regional Office Review of Applications (RORA) 2007

This is the third in a series of annual reports assessing administrative error associated with the local educational agency’s (LEA) approval of applications for free and reduced-price school meals. In school year 2006/07 about 96 percent of students who were approved for meal benefits on the basis of an application received the correct level of meal benefits, based on the information in the application files. The percent of all students with administrative errors in the processing of their applications for meal benefits has remained relatively stable over the 3-year period, with administrative errors ranging between 3 and 4 percent.

Resource | Research | Assessing/Improving Operations
Evaluation of the 2004/2005 Food Stamp Outreach Projects

The Food Stamp Program (FSP) is the Nation’s largest nutrition assistance program. About 1 of every 11 Americans participated in 2006. The program and its benefits are available to almost all eligible households whose income and assets fall below national eligibility thresholds. The participation rate among people eligible for benefits has increased in recent years (to 65 percent in 2005). However, many low-income people do not receive the nutrition assistance benefits to which they are entitled. The Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) is committed to making sure that all those eligible for food stamp benefits are able to access the program. To help meet that goal, over the last several fiscal years, FNS has awarded a series of grants to local organizations that, in turn, conduct outreach activities to educate potentially eligible individuals about the FSP and to
facilitate their access. FNS awarded nearly $2 million to 16 food stamp outreach projects in fiscal years 2004 and 2005. These projects are the focus of this report. The report describes the project goals and strategies, provides a general description of each grantee, and gives a synopsis of project performance. Performance is based on grantees’ self-evaluation.

Resource | Research | Assessing/Improving Operations
Feasibility of Assessing Causes of State Variation in Food Stamp Program Administrative Costs

The total cost of State administrative expenses (SAE) in the Food Stamp Program (FSP) was $5.5 billion in FY 2007. (On October 1, 2008, the Food Stamp Program will change its name to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program or SNAP). While the Federal Government pays 100 percent of the cost of food stamp benefits, SAE are shared about 50/50 between the States and the Federal Government. These costs vary substantially between States. While the national average SAE was $469 per case in FY2007, State averages ranged from $169 in South Carolina to $1,169 in California. This study examines the feasibility of assessing causes of variation in SAE by addressing two fundamental sets of questions: Is it possible to measure SAE consistently across States to credibly assess the degree of variation? Are alternative ways to measure SAE needed? If so, what level of effort is needed? Can SAE variation be explained in the absence of a controlled experiment? If yes, what are the alternative approaches? Which are recommended?

Resource | Research | Promoting Healthy Eating
Diet Quality of American School-Age Children by School Lunch Participation Status: Data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey

This report uses data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES 1999-2004) to provide a current and comprehensive picture of the diets of school-aged children. Data are presented for children who participated and did not participate in the National School Lunch Program (NSLP). For comparison purposes, results are provided for low-income children and higher income children for both participants and nonparticipants.

Resource | Research | Assessing/Improving Operations
Report to Congress: The Nebraska Rural Area Eligibility Determination Pilot for the CACFP

The Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP) subsidizes nutritious meals and snacks served to participants in child care nationwide, providing different levels or “tiers” of meal reimbursement based on the income level of participating children, providers, and nearby geographic areas. Policymakers have long been concerned that programs such as CACFP are not as accessible to eligible children in rural areas as in urban areas. To address these concerns, Public Law 108-265 (2004) authorized a pilot to test lowering the eligibility threshold for higher reimbursement rates to make them available in rural areas in Nebraska with somewhat lower concentrations of low-income households (40 percent of school children below 185 percent of poverty) than permitted under regular program rules (50 percent of school children below 185 percent of poverty). By offering higher reimbursement rates in these areas, it was hoped not only that more day care providers would become interested in participating in the CACFP, but that sufficient concentrations of such providers would make it more attractive for sponsoring organizations to operate in more rural areas. This report presents the results on an evaluation of the pilot, which was conducted between October 2005 and September 2007.