Resource | Research | Nutrition Education
Evaluation of the FY 2016 Team Nutrition Training Grants

In September 2016, FNS awarded Team Nutrition Training Grants to 14 state agencies that administer the USDA’s NSLP, SBP, and CACFP. This TNTG cohort was different than previous cohorts because, for the first time, grantees were asked to outline a plan to evaluate some or all of the interventions they would implement with grant funding. In order to support this evaluation, they were asked to partner with a social scientist, and FNS provided technical assistance for evaluation. This report summarizes the evaluations of interventions funded by the FY 2016 Team Nutrition Training Grants and the evaluation findings, and provides lessons learned from the experience and recommendations for improving the quality of evaluations under future grants.

Resource | Research | Assessing/Improving Operations
Farm to School Census and Comprehensive Review

The Farm to School Census and Comprehensive Review includes the 2019 Farm to School Census; a descriptive review of the USDA Farm to School Grant Program; a review of published research on farm to school since 2010; and a set of interviews with school food distributors. These reports will be released over the course of 2021.

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
Direct Certification in the National School Lunch Program Report to Congress: State Implementation Progress, School Year 2014-2015

This report responds to the requirement of PL 110-246 to assess the effectiveness of state and local efforts to directly certify children for free school meals. Direct certification is a process conducted by the states and by local educational agencies to certify eligible children for free meals without the need for household applications. 

Resource | Research | Assessing/Improving Operations
Approaches to Measuring Erroneous Payments in the National School Lunch Program and School Breakfast Program At The State Level

The second Access, Participation, Eligibility and Certification Study (APEC II) included a follow-on report that provided statistically-derived state-level estimates of school meals erroneous payments. However, while APEC II provided a rough indicator of relative risk for groups of states (e.g., higher than average, about average, lower than average), it was not a state-representative direct measure, and creating actual annual measures of such erroneous payments at the state level using APEC methodology is cost-prohibitive. This report explores alternative approaches to developing measurement-based state-specific estimates that are responsive to year-to-year changes in the actual underlying rate in each state. It also provides cost and burden estimates for the implementation of each of these methods.

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 | Cost Study
School Lunch and Breakfast Cost Study - II

This study examines the cost of producing National School Lunch Program (NSLP) and School Breakfast Program (SBP) meals during School Year (SY) 2005-06. It measures both reported costs – costs charged
directly to school food service accounts – and unreported costs – those costs paid by school districts in support of School Food Authority (SFA) operations – to estimate the full cost of meal production.

Resource | Research | Cost Study
School Lunch and Breakfast Cost Study

The study examined the costs charged to SFAs (reported costs), as well as those costs incurred by the school district in support of SFA operations, but not charged to the SFA (unreported costs). Together, the reported costs and the unreported costs are the full cost of meal production.