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 | Assessing/Improving Operations
Special Nutrition Program Operations Study, School Year 2013-14

The Special Nutrition Program Operations Study is a multiyear study designed to provide the Food and Nutrition Service with a snapshot of current State and School Food Authority policies and practices of the school meal programs, including information on school meal standards, competitive foods standards, professional standards, school lunch pricing and accounting, and Smarter Lunchrooms activities. The information in this third year study (School Year 2013-14), the year of the first implementation phase of new breakfast standards, will provide data for observing the improvements resulting from the implementation of the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act. Data was collected from a survey of all State Child Nutrition Directors and a nationally representative sample of School Food Authorities (SFAs).

Resource | Research | Assessing/Improving Operations
School Nutrition Program Operations Study, School Year 2012-13

The Special Nutrition Program Operations Study is a multiyear study designed to provide the Food and Nutrition Service with a snapshot of current State and School Food Authority policies and practices of the school meal programs, including information on school meal standards, competitive foods standards, professional standards, school lunch pricing and accounting, and standards for school wellness policies. The information in this second year report (School Year 2012-13), the first year new lunch standards were implemented, will provide data for observing the improvements resulting from the implementation of the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act. Data was collected from a survey of all State Child Nutrition Directors and a nationally representative sample of School Food Authorities (SFAs).

Resource | Research | Assessing/Improving Operations
HHFKA Implementation Research Brief Series

This series of research briefs examines best practices in School Food Authorities' implementation of key provisions and their impacts in the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010, including Fruits and Vegetables, Plate Waste, Sodium, Participation, Revenue, Whole Grains, Smart Snacks, and a special view of Obesity.

Resource | Research | Assessing/Improving Operations
Program Error in the NSLP and SBP: Findings from the Second Access, Participation, Eligibility and Certification Study (APEC II)

FNS developed the Access, Participation, Eligibility and Certification (APEC) study series, which collects and analyzes data from a nationally representative sample of schools and school food authorities (SFAs) about every 5 years. APEC allows FNS to develop a national estimate of erroneous payment rates and amounts in three key areas: certification error, meal claiming error and aggregation error.  FNS recently completed APEC II, which collected data in School Year 2012-2013 and this report summarizes those findings.

Resource | Research | Assessing/Improving Operations
School Foodservice Indirect Cost Study

The Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act (HHFKA) directed USDA to study the extent to which school food authorities (SFAs) participating in the National School Lunch Program (NSLP) and School Breakfast Program (SBP) pay indirect costs to local education agencies (LEAs). It specifically requested an assessment of the methodologies used to establish indirect costs, the types and amounts of indirect costs that are charged and not charged to the school foodservice account, and the types and amounts of indirect costs recovered by LEAs. To address the research questions, information was collected from four perspectives: (1) the State education agency finance officer, (2) the State child nutrition director, (3) the LEA business manager, and (4) the SFA director. 

Resource | Research | Assessing/Improving Operations
Evaluation of the 14 State Summer Food Service Program Pilot Project

In December 2000, the Secretary of Agriculture was authorized, through the Food and Nutrition Service (FNS), to conduct a Pilot to increase SFSP participation in a number of States with low rates of feeding low-income children in the summer. States were eligible to participate in the Pilot if the proportion of low-income children they served in July 1999 through SFSP and the National School Lunch Program (NSLP) relative to March 1999 NSLP participation was below 50 percent of the national average. Fourteen States, including Alaska, Arkansas, Idaho, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Nebraska, New Hampshire, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Puerto Rico, Texas, and Wyoming, met the criteria and are participating in the Pilot. For the purpose of this Pilot, Puerto Rico is defined as a State. This 3-year Pilot began in fiscal year 2001 and has been extended until June 30, 2004. Under the Pilot, meals served by eligible sponsors in the 14 States are reimbursed at the maximum allowable rate. In addition, administrative record keeping for the Pilot sponsors was reduced since they were no longer required to record administrative and operating costs separately and they did not have to report costs to State Agencies.

Resource | Research | Assessing/Improving Operations
Report to Congress: USDA's Simplified Summer Food Program 2001-2006

The Simplified Summer Food Program (“Simplified Summer”) is a modified version of the Summer Food Service Program (SFSP). The modifications allow reimbursements at a fixed rate rather than limiting reimbursement to administrative and operating costs documented by the individual provider. Simplified Summer was based on the Lugar Pilot Project (“Pilot”) which was in place from FY 2001 to FY 2004. Simplified Summer began operating in FY 2005 and extends the summer food program benefits, first established in the Pilot, to additional states. Meals served are reimbursed at the allowable rates under SFSP without regard to actual or budgeted costs. Sponsoring organizations in Simplified Summer do not have to report costs in order to receive reimbursement, nor are they limited to using administrative funds strictly for administration. The Child Nutrition and WIC Reauthorization Act of 2004 required that the Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) evaluate the impact of Simplified Summer which now operates in 26 states and the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico.

Resource | Research | Assessing/Improving Operations
Eating Breakfast: Effects of the School Breakfast Program

The analysis conducted in this study builds on these two strands of the literature and uses three alternate definitions of breakfast: Consumption of any food or beverage. Breakfast intake of food energy greater than 10 percent of the Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA). Consumption of foods from at least two of five main food groups and intake of food energy greater than 10 percent of the RDA. As the definition of breakfast becomes more robust, the percentage of students who eat breakfast declines. Almost 9 of 10 students consumed any food or beverage, but only 6 of 10 students consumed food from at least two of the main food groups and had breakfast intake of food energy greater than 10 percent of the RDA.