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 | 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 | 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.

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 | Payment Accuracy and Program Integrity
Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP) Assessment of Sponsor Tiering Determinations 2006

The Improper Payments Information Act of 2002 (Public Law 107-300) requires all Federal agencies to calculate the amount of erroneous payments in Federal programs and to periodically conduct detailed assessments of vulnerable program components. This is the second wave (2006) of a program assessment of the Family Day Care Home (FDCH) component of USDA's Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP). The assessment provides a national estimate of the share of CACFP-participating family day care homes that are approved for an incorrect level of per meal reimbursement, or reimbursement "tier," for their circumstances. Tiering errors result in improper payments because misclassified FDCHs do not receive the appropriate level of reimbursement for the meals and snacks provided to the children. The study also estimates the dollar amount of improper payments attributable to FDCH tiering errors.

Resource | Research | Assessing/Improving Operations
The Pennsylvania SFSP Rural Area Eligibility Pilot Evaluation

The Child Nutrition and WIC Reauthorization Act of 2004 (P.L. 108-265) authorized a pilot to operate in rural Pennsylvania during the summers of 2005 and 2006. The purpose was to test whether lowering the site eligibility threshold from 50 percent to 40 percent would increase the number of children participating in the program. The legislation directed USDA, through the Food and Nutrition Service (FNS), to evaluate the impact of the pilot eligibility criterion on: (1) the number of sponsors operating sites that offer meals under the SFSP, (2) the number of sites offering meals through SFSP, (3) the geographic locations of sites, (4) services provided at the sites, and (5) other factors influencing participation.

Resource | Research
Increasing Fruit and Vegetable Consumption through the USDA Nutrition Assistance Programs

This report summarizes the actions and initiatives implemented since 2002 to increase fruit and vegetable consumption among participants in the nutrition assistance programs. The following areas addressed are policy, guidance, and initiatives, programs, nutrition education and promotion, collaboration and coordination, grants, reports, and emerging initiatives and resources.