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Child Nutrition

Nutrition Standards for Competitive Foods in Schools: Implications for Foodservice Revenues—This report examines U.S. students' competitive food selections, their contribution to school foodservice revenues, and how that contribution might change under more strict nutrition standards (June 2013).

How Food Away From Home Affects Children's Diet Quality—This report examines how school food purchases—all foods, not only USDA reimbursable meals—and other food-away-from-home affect children's diet quality and calorie consumption. Both food from school and other "away" food sources lower the daily diet quality of older children (as measured by the 2005 Healthy Eating Index). Among younger children, who are more likely than older children to eat a USDA school meal and have a more healthful school food environment, the effect of school food on caloric intake and diet quality does not differ significantly from that of food from home (October 2010).

Diet Quality of School-Age Children in the U.S. and Association with Participation in the School Meal Programs—Using data from the third School Nutrition Dietary Assessment Study (SNDA-III), this study found no significant differences in children's diet quality between school meal participants and nonparticipants. However, National School Lunch Program (NSLP) participation and School Breakfast Program (SBP) participation were both associated with significantly higher milk consumption, and NSLP participants scored significantly lower than nonparticipants on consumption of healthy oils (July 2010).

Children's Food Security and Intakes From School Meals—Children from food-insecure and marginally secure households receive a larger proportion of their food and nutrient intakes at school than do children from highly secure households due partially to higher participation rates of the insecure and marginally secure in school meal programs. Skipping breakfast was significantly more common among the food-insecure and marginally secure children; even at schools with breakfast programs, 20 percent of children from food-insecure and marginally secure households did not eat breakfast (May 2010).

School Meal Program Participation and its Association with Dietary Patterns and Childhood Obesity—Using data from the School Nutrition Dietary Assessment III Study, this study found that National School Lunch Program (NSLP) participants had lower intakes of sugar-sweetened beverages and a lower percentage of calories from low-nutrient energy-dense (LNED) foods and beverages than did nonparticipants. Overall, NSLP participation was not significantly related to students' BMI. School Breakfast Program (SBP) participants ate more LNED baked goods and more calories at breakfast than did nonparticipants, spreading calorie intake more evenly over the course of the day. SBP participants had significantly lower BMI than did nonparticipants (July 2009).

Ecological Predictors and Developmental Outcomes of Persistent Childhood Overweight—Childhood obesity poses short- and long-term health risks. This study, based on the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study-Kindergarten Class, followed 8,000 children from kindergarten through third grade to examine predictors of persistent childhood overweight and associated academic and socioemotional outcomes. Socioeconomic status, gender, race, and behavioral and environmental factors were found to influence risk of persistent overweight. Overweight children progressed less than their nonoverweight peers did in reading and math achievement and were rated lower on academic and socioemotional factors by their teachers and themselves. Academic and social costs should be considered in assessing costs of childhood overweight and potential benefits of overweight prevention (June 2008).

Publication cover titled, Parental Time, Role Strain, and Children's Fat Intake and Obesity-Related Outcomes Parental Time, Role Strain, and Children's Fat Intake and Obesity-Related Outcomes—This study uses a unique dataset to examine parental influence on children's dietary intake and whether or not the children will become obese. The study shows that household income, parents' time spent with children, and parents' work experiences significantly affect children's energy and fat intake and obesity-related outcomes. For example, the more time mothers spent with their children, the lower the children's Body Mass Index (BMI) was. On the other hand, the more time fathers spent with their children, the higher the children's BMI was. Parental influence seemed to affect children ages 9-11 more than children ages 13-15. (CCR-19), June 2006.

Nutrition and Health Characteristics of Low-Income Populations: Usual Nutrient Intakes—This study examined longrun average, or "usual" intakes of 10 key nutrients and dietary components using 1988-94 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) data. Results were estimated for the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC participants), Food Stamp Program participants, school-age children, and older adults. Because recommendations for nutrient intake have been under revision, intake distributions are useful for estimating the prevalence of adequate intake under different standards. The study provides a baseline from which to monitor the nutrition and health characteristics of each group over time and to identify priorities for further research. (AIB-796-2), February 2005.

A teacher distributing orange slices to a student Nutrition and Health Characteristics of Low-Income Populations: Body Weight Status—This study examined several measures of body weight status for children and adults using 1988-94 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) data. The measures provide a baseline to monitor the weight status of Americans, focusing on the low-income population. (AIB-796-3), February 2005.

Nutrition and Health Characteristics of Low-Income Populations: Meal Patterns, Milk and Soft Drink Consumption, and Supplement Use—This study examined several eating behaviors for children and adults using 1988-94 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES-III) data. The measures provide a baseline to monitor eating behaviors of Americans, focusing on the low-income population. (AIB-796-4), February 2005.

Nutrition and Health Characteristics of Low-Income Populations: Clinic Measures of Iron, Folate, Vitamin B12, Cholesterol, Bone Density, and Lead Poisoning—This study examined several eating behaviors for children and adults using 1988-94 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES-III) data. This summary focuses on the nutritional biochemistry blood tests and bone density measures that showed differences between income groups. The measures provide a baseline to monitor eating behaviors of Americans, focusing on the low-income population. (AIB-796-5), February 2005.

Metropolitan Area Food Prices and Children's Weight Gain—Overweight among children has increased rapidly over the past two decades. A prevalent belief is that characteristics of the local food supply, such as the affordability of fresh produce and the density of food markets and restaurants, are associated with children's diet and weight gain. This study investigates these issues and finds an association between the relative cost of fruits and vegetables and excessive weight gain by elementary-age children. (CCR-14), December 2005.

Publication cover titled, Maternal Employment and Children's Nutrition: Volume II, Other Nutrition-Related Outcomes Maternal Employment and Children's Nutrition: Volume II, Other Nutrition-Related Outcomes—Children of working mothers are more likely to participate in the National School Lunch Program. In contrast, the higher income of households with working mothers is related to lower participation in USDA's Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) and School Breakfast and Food Stamp Programs. This study analyzed differences in nutrition and nutrition-related outcomes among children whose mothers work full-time, part-time, and not at all (homemakers). This report focuses on indirect nutrition-related outcomes, including food program participation, children's eating patterns, household food acquisition and sufficiency, and children's physical activity and risk of overweight. (E-FAN-04-006-2), June 2004.

Nutrition and Health Characteristics of Low-Income Populations: Volume III, School-Age Children—Data from the Third National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES-III), conducted in 1988-94, were used to compare the nutrition and health characteristics of the Nation's school-age children. Three groups of boys and girls ages 5-18 were compared based on household income: income at or below 130 percent of poverty (lowest income), income between 131 and 185 percent of poverty (low income), and income above 185 percent of poverty (higher income). This research was designed to establish a baseline from which to monitor the nutrition and health characteristics of school-age children over time, particularly those in low-and lowest income groups. (E-FAN-04-014-3), December 2004.

Examining the Well-Being of Children—The theme for this issue of FoodReview is "'America's Children." Articles in this issue discuss the well-being of America's children, children's diet quality, the problem of overweight children in America, foodborne disease among children, the economics of breastfeeding, and food assistance programs that help children and their families. FoodReview (24-2), October 2001.

National School Lunch Program

Effects of Immigration on WIC and NSLP Caseloads—The Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) and the National School Lunch Program (NSLP) have no eligibility restrictions based on the legal status of immigrants. This study reveals an increase in the number and share of immigrants and their children in WIC and NSLP between the mid-1990s and 2006; however, the share of immigrant participants is comparable to their share of the eligible population. Findings suggest that immigrants face fewer barriers to access in WIC and NSLP than they do for the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), and other benefits subject to immigration-related eligibility restrictions (October 2010).

Balancing Nutrition, Participation, and Cost in the National School Lunch Program—Schools face the dual constraints of meeting nutritional requirements and covering costs. At the same time, meals must appeal to children so that they will actually eat the foods that are served. This article explores how schools across America respond to these challenges (September 2008). 

Children retrieving food from a lunch line The National School Lunch Program: Background, Trends, and Issues—The National School Lunch Program (NSLP) is the Nation's second largest food andnutrition assistance program. In 2006, it operated in more than 101,000 public and nonprofit private schools and provided over 28 million low-cost or free lunches to children on a typical school day at a cost of $8 billion. The report provides background information on the NSLP, including historical trends and participant characteristics. It also addresses steps being taken to meet challenges facing program administrators, including tradeoffs between program access and program integrity (July 2008).

Participant Characteristics

Profiles of Participants in the National School Lunch Program: Data From Two National Surveys—The National School Lunch Program (NSLP) serves more than 29 million children each day-and almost half of these children live in households with incomes below 185 percent of poverty. This study reports new estimates of NSLP participant characteristics using two national surveys: the 2001 Panel of the Survey of Income and Program Participation (SIPP) and the 1999-2002 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES). (EIB-17), August 2006.

Program Access, Operations and Integrity

School Foodservice Costs: Location Matters—School food authorities (SFAs) must serve appealing, healthful meals while covering food, labor, and other operating costs. This challenge may be more difficult for some SFAs than for others because a nationally representative survey found that school costs per meal varied by geographic location. In the 2002-03 school year, SFAs in the Southwestern United States had, on average, consistently lower foodservice costs per meal than did SFAs in other regions. Urban locations had lower costs per meal than did their rural and suburban counterparts. Wage and benefit rates, food expenditures per meal, and SFA characteristics such as the mix of breakfasts and lunches served each contributed to the differences in foodservice costs per meal across locations (May 2011).

Meeting Total Fat Requirements for School Lunches: Influence of School Policies and Characteristics—Schools have been successful in meeting most USDA nutrient standards in school lunches except for total and saturated fat. This report uses school-level data from the School Nutrition Dietary Assessment-III to calculate statistical differences between the fat content of NSLP lunches served by schools with different policies such as menu planning and characteristics such as region and size. A meal's fat content is positively associated with the presence of a la carte foods and vending machines, which may indirectly affect the nutrient content of USDA-subsidized meals (December 2009).

Factors Associated With School Meal Participation and the Relationship Between Different Participation Measures—This study investigated factors that influence students' participation in the National School Lunch Program (NSLP) and School Breakfast Program (SBP) using data from a large, nationally representative sample of students certified for free and reduced-price meals during the 2005-06 school year. Eligible elementary school students are more likely to participate than are middle or high school students. Also, students who like the taste of the meals are more likely to participate than are students who do not. The study cautions that parents' reports of student participation tend to overstate participation, which results in higher reported annual participation rates than from using administrative data (June 2009).

The Income Volatility See-Saw: Implications for School Lunch—Income volatility challenges the effectiveness of the safety net that USDA food assistance programs provide low-income families. This study examines income volatility among households with children and the implications of volatility for eligibility in the National School Lunch Program (NSLP). The results show that income volatility was higher for successively lower income groups and that the major determinants of changes in NSLP eligibility were changes in total household hours worked and the share of working adults. (ERR-23), August 2006.

Publication cover titled, Direct Certification in the National School Lunch Program--Impacts on Program Access and Integrity Direct Certification in the National School Lunch Program—Impacts on Program Access and Integrity—About 61 percent of school districts used direct certification in the National School Lunch Program (NSLP) in the 2001-02 school year, the same share as in 1996. Direct certification increased the number of children certified for free meals by about 400,000 and slightly increased overall NSLP participation. Under direct certification, school districts use information from State welfare or food stamp offices to certify children to receive free meals. To qualify, children's families must receive food stamps, Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, or assistance from the Food Distribution Program on Indian Reservations. Children's families who are directly certified do not have to complete certification applications. (E-FAN-03-009), October 2003.

Food Assistance Research Brief—Certifying Eligibility in the National School Lunch Program—Nutritionally balanced National School Lunch Program (NSLP) meals are available in almost all public and many private schools. Any child at a participating school may purchase a lunch through the NSLP. Current regulations allow children to be certified for free or reduced-priced lunches in two ways-direct certification based on documentation from State or local welfare offices or certification based on an application from a child's parent or guardian. This report examines whether students who are not eligible for free or reduced-cost meals are receiving meals. (FANRR-34-4), July 2003.

Plate Waste in School Nutrition Programs: Final Report to Congress—This report examines the level of plate waste in the National School Lunch Program (NSLP) and information on strategies to reduce it. Strategies examined include using the offer vs. serve provision for meal service, rescheduling lunch hours, improving the quality of food, tailoring serving sizes to student appetites, and providing nutrition education. (E-FAN-02-009), March 2002.

Improving Children's Diet and Health

When Nudging in the Lunch Line Might Be a Good Thing—Schools can exert considerable control over the food choices they offer and the manner in which they are presented-the "choice architecture" in behavioral economic terms. Behavioral economic theory suggests several possibilities to structure school cafeteria environments in a noncoercive manner to encourage healthy choices (March 2009).

Behavioral Economic Concepts To Encourage Healthy Eating in School Cafeterias: Experiments and Lessons From College Students—Changing small factors that influence consumer choices may lead to healthier eating within controlled settings, such as school cafeterias. This report describes a behavioral experiment in a college cafeteria to assess the effects of various payment options and menu selection methods on food choices. The results indicate that payment options, such as cash or debit cards, can significantly affect food choices (December 2008).

Middle School Student Lunch Consumption: Impact of National School Lunch Program Meal and Competitive Foods—National School Lunch Program (NSLP) meals are associated with several positive dietary quality outcomes for children but concerns remain. Students who consumed mainly NSLP food reported higher intakes of most nutrients, milk, fruits, and vegetables and lower intakes of sweetened beverages and candy than students who consumed mainly non-NSLP food, including a la carte items, food from vending machines, and food from home. Students in the "mainly NLSP" group also consumed more sodium, fat, and saturated fat, and calories, although caloric intake was only 80 percent of the NSLP requirement for lunch calories. (CCR-30), June 2007.

Food Assistance Research Brief—A Healthy School Meal Environment—This report examines how schools can foster an environment that encourages healthy food choices by participants in the National School Lunch Program and the School Breakfast Program. Environmental factors that are considered to be important in healthy food choices include (1) the nutritional quality, variety, and acceptability of program meals; (2) meal scheduling; (3) nutrition education; and (4) sales of non-USDA foods. (FANRR-34-5), July 2003.

Image of a little girl and boy drinking milk and wearing milk mustaches Food Assistance Research Brief—Competitive Foods: Soft Drinks vs. Milk—"Competitive foods"—those available in schools in addition to USDA-provided school meals—have lower nutritional quality than school meals. This report reviews current information on the impact of competitive foods in school meal programs and presents a case study on competition between milk and soft drinks. (FANRR-34-7), July 2003.

Nutrition Education

Methodology To Evaluate the Outcomes of the Team Nutrition Initiative in Schools—This project develops a data collection methodology to evaluate outcomes of Team Nutrition, a voluntary USDA school-based initiative to promote nutrition education, healthy eating, and physical activity. The project uses information technology to collect high-quality data while decreasing respondent and investigator burden and lowering costs of collecting and analyzing evaluation data. Seven data collection instruments were developed and are being pilot-tested in one State, but the methodology could be useful to other States. (CCR-20), June 2006.

Improving Program Data

Establishing a Web-Based Data Collection System for National School Lunch and National School Breakfast Program Data: Technical Report—This report follows up an initiative to establish a central website to collect data from States on the National School Lunch and the School Breakfast Programs. Researchers and program administrators could use a central website to compare and analyze data across State and local areas for participation trends in local school district programs. The report provides an implementation plan for establishing a central website. The initiative is one of three that have the potential to improve the usefulness and cost-effectiveness of research on Federal food assistance and nutrition programs. The other initiatives are addressed in the reports Linking the Current Population Survey to State Food Stamp Program Administrative Data: Phase II Report, Data Development Initiatives for Research on Food Assistance and Nutrition Programs-Final Report and Linking WIC Program Data to Medicaid and Vital Records Data: Phase II Report, Data Development Initiatives for Research on Food Assistance and Nutrition Programs-Final Report. (E-FAN-04-005-3), June 2004.

Data Development Initiatives for Research on Food Assistance and Nutrition Programs, Phase I: Ten Potential Data Initiatives—This report describes 10 potential data development initiatives, each of which holds promise for improving the quality or reducing the cost of data resources in USDA's three major food assistance programs. The initiatives reflect the research needs of all three of the largest Federal food assistance programs: the Food Stamp Program, the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children, and the National School Lunch Program. The initiatives could aslo provide information on the measurement of program impacts and the dynamics of program participation. (E-FAN-01-010), December 2001.

School Breakfast Program

Improving Children's Diets, Growth, Development, Learning, and Health

The School Breakfast Program Participation and Impacts—This report examines the determinants of participation in the School Breakfast Program among third grade public school students, as well as the impact of the program on food insecurity and skipping breakfast. Using data from the Early Childhood Longitudinal Survey-Kindergarten Cohort and from the Wisconsin Schools Food Security Survey, the study found that students are more likely to participate when breakfast is served in the classroom, when time available for breakfast in school is longer, and when they come from lower income or time-constrained households. Children with access to the School Breakfast Program are more likely to eat breakfast in the morning, and program access may enhance food security among families at the the margin of food insecurity (July 2009).

Evaluating the Impact of School Nutrition Programs: Final Report—This study develops estimates of the efficacy of school nutrition programs in improving a broad range of dietary outcomes by comparing the nutritional status of students and their families during the school year with the status when school is out. The study finds evidence that children who have a School Breakfast Program (SBP) available consume a better overall diet and a lower percentage of calories from fat and are less likely to have a low intake of magnesium as well as low serum levels of vitamin C and folate. The results of this study suggest that the availability of an SBP has beneficial effects for children. (E-FAN-04-008), July 2004.

Designs for Measuring How the School Breakfast Program Affects Learning—This report describes a study design that permits a scientifically defensible evaluation of the impact of the School Breakfast Program (SBP) on learning and cognitive development among children. Following presentation of a literature review and conceptual framework of the SBP-learning relationship, four alternative designs for measuring this relationship were proposed and assessed. Of the four, the design based on Early Childhood Longitudinal Study (ECLS) data (with supplemental analysis of 1988-1994 NHANES III data) was chosen as the report's subject. (E-FAN-01-013), December 2001.

Improving Program Data

Establishing a Web-Based Data Collection System for National School Lunch and National School Breakfast Program Data: Technical Report—This report follows up an initiative to establish a central website to collect data from States on the National School Lunch and the School Breakfast Programs. (E-FAN-04-005-3), June 2004.

Child and Adult Care Food Program

Program Access, Operations and Integrity

Publication cover titled, Administrative Costs in the Child and Adult Care Food Program: Results of an Exploratory Study of the Reimbursement System for Sponsors of Family Child Care Homes Administrative Costs in the Child and Adult Care Food Program: Results of an Exploratory Study of the Reimbursement System for Sponsors of Family Child Care Homes—The introduction of tiered meal reimbursement rates in the family child care homes portion of the Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP) concentred benefits more intensely on low-income providers and children, as intended. Tiering created new administrative tasks for sponsors that oversee family child care homes. This situation has raised concerns as to the adequacy of reimbursements. This study explores the administrative cost reimbursement system for CACFP sponsors. Costs reported by sponsors on average were about 5 percent higher than allowable reimbursement amounts. The report also presents and discusses alternative administrative reimbursement systems used by other Federal programs. (CCR-16), March 2006.

Food Assistance Research Brief—Reimbursement Tiering Improves Targeting but Decreases Participation in the Child and Adult Care Food Program—The Family Child Care Homes Legislative Changes Study found that family child care homes in the Child and Adult Care Food Program serve fewer children but more of the children are from low-income families. Prior to the tiered reimbursement system, which started in 1997, 21 percent of the children served were from low-income families. Post-tiering, that number rose to 45 percent. (FANRR-34-9), July 2003.

Food Assistance Research Brief—Tiering Increases CACFP Sponsors' Administrative Tasks—The two-tiered meal reimbursement system instituted in 1997 within the child care homes portion of the Child and Adult Care Food Program added new duties for sponsoring organizations. This report examines how these new duties have affected the sponsoring organizations' administrative tasks. (FANRR-34-8), July 2003.

Publication cover titled, Effects of CACFP Reimbursement Tiering: Major Findings of the Family Child Care Homes Legislative Changes Study Effects of CACFP Reimbursement Tiering: Major Findings of the Family Child Care Homes Legislative Changes Study—The introduction of tiered meal reimbursement rates in the family child care homes portion of the Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP) concentrated benefits more intensely on low-income children, as intended. Tiering added to sponsoring organizations' administrative duties, reduced the number of participating family child care homes, but did not alter the number or nutritional quality of meals offered by providers receiving the lower reimbursement rates. (FANRR-24), May 2002.

Issues in Food Assistance—Program Targeting: Effects of Meal Reimbursement Tiering on the Child and Adult Care Food Program—A 1995 study of the family child care homes portion of the Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP) found that nearly 80 percent of children served came from middle and higher income families. To refocus the program on low-income children, the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunities Reconciliation Act of 1996 mandated an income-targeted meal reimbursement structure. A congressionally mandated study of the effects of tiered meal reimbursement on the family child care homes portion of the CACFP found that this component of the CACFP became substantially more focused on low-income children after tiering was introduced. (FANRR-26-1), April 2002.

Family Child Care Home Participation in the CACFP—Effects of Reimbursement Tiering: A Report to Congress on the Family Child Care Homes Legislative Changes Study—The introduction of tiered reimbursement rates in 1997 in the family child care homes portion of the Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP) concentrated benefits more intensely on low-income providers and children, as intented. It also reduced the number of family child care homes participating in 1998 and 1999. This report presents the results of a congressionally mandated study on how the revised reimbursement structure affected the number of family child care homes participating in the CACFP. By reducing participation incentives for child care homes that were not considered to be low-income, tiering reduced the number of participating CACFP homes. (E-FAN-02-002), April 2002.

Sponsoring Organizations in the CACFP—Administrative Effects of Reimbursement Tiering: A Report to Congress on the Family Child Care Homes Legislative Changes Study—Sponsors of family child care homes in the Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP) took on additional responsibilities as a result of the tiered reimbursement structure introduced in 1997. According to this congressionally mandated study, tiering has created a requirement for sponsors to classify family child care homes (providers) and some participating children according to income status. Sponsors also reported that they increased training and monitoring, expanded services to providers, and heightened recruitment efforts. (E-FAN-02-003), April 2002.

Publication cover titled, Households with Children in CACFP Child Care Homes--Effects of Meal Reimbursement Tiering: A Report to Congress on the Family Child Care Homes Legislative Changes Study Households with Children in CACFP Child Care Homes—Effects of Meal Reimbursement Tiering: A Report to Congress on the Family Child Care Homes Legislative Changes Study—Within the family child care home portion of the Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP), low-income children increased from 21 to 39 percent of all participating children between 1995 and 1999. This congressionally mandated study found that the proportion of dollars allocated to low-income children's meals more than doubled, from 21 percent to 45 percent. (E-FAN-02-005), April 2002.

Meals Offered by Tier 2 CACFP Family Child Care Providers—Effects of Lower Meal Reimbursements: A Report to Congress on the Family Child Care Homes Legislative Changes Study—The introduction of tiered reimbursement rates in 1997 did not substantially affect the food and nutrient composition of meals offered by Tier 2 providers in the Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP). This congressionally mandated study found that, although reimbursement rates for Tier 2 providers (providers who are not low-income themselves and do not live in low-income areas) were reduced, these providers neither cut back on meals and snacks served nor offered less nutritious foods. (E-FAN-02-006), April 2002.

Reimbursement Tiering in the CACFP: Summary Report to Congress on the Family Child Care Homes Legislative Changes Study—The introduction of tiered reimbursement rates in the Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP) concentrated program benefits more intensely on low-income providers and children, as intended. Tiering reduced the number of family child care homes participating in the program, but did not alter the number or nutritional quality of meals offered by participating providers. This report summarizes the results of a congressionally mandated study of the effects of a tiered reimbursement system on program participation and meals offered to children. Data were collected during spring and summer of 1999 from nationally representative samples of participating family child care homes, their sponsors, and the parents of the children they served. (FANRR-22), March 2002.

Improving Children's Diet and Health

Maternal Employment and Children's Nutrition: Volume I, Diet Quality and the Role of the CACFP—Compared with children of nonworking mothers, children of full-time working mothers have lower overall Healthy Eating Index scores, lower intake of iron and fiber, and higher intake of soda and fried potatoes, even after taking into account differences in maternal and other family characteristics. Nutritional differences between children of part-time working mothers and children of nonworking mothers were more sensitive to maternal and family characteristics, with no clear pattern of nutritional differences emerging. This study analyzed differences in nutrition outcomes among children whose mothers work full-time, part-time, and not at all, and the role of USDA's Child and Adult Care Food Program in meeting the nutrition needs of participating children, especially those whose mothers work. (E-FAN-04-006-1), June 2004.

Summer Food Service Program

Food Assistance Research Brief—Feeding Low-Income Children When School Is Out: The Summer Food Service Program—The Summer Food Service Program (SFSP) is the major Federal resource available to provide children from low-income families with nutritious meals when school is not in session. Small in comparison with the National School Lunch Program, which served 15.5 million children in 2001, the SFSP served 2.1 million children. Growing interest in improving SFSP operations and expanding participation led USDA to commission the first comprehensive examination of the program since 1986. This brief presents findings from the study. (FANRR-34-10), July 2003. 

Feeding Low-Income Children When School Is Out—The Summer Food Service Program: Executive Summary—USDA's Summer Food Service Program (SFSP) funds meals for children in low-income areas when school is not in session. ERS sponsored the first comprehensive study of the SFSP in more than a decade. The nationally representative study surveyed State administrators, sponsor staff, and site staff on program operations and on factors that affect participation. The study also examined the nutritional quality of meals served and the extent of plate waste. In fiscal year 2001, more than 4,000 local sponsors provided about 130 million meals at more than 35,000 feeding sites. The number of children served in July (2.1 million) was about 14 percent of the number who received free or reduced-price school meals during the previous school year. (FANRR-30), April 2003.

Little boy sitting on a blanket in the park eating a sandwich Feeding Low-Income Children When School Is Out—The Summer Food Service Program: Final Report—USDA's Summer Food Service Program (SFSP) funds meals for children in low-income areas when school is not in session. This first comprehensive study of the SFSP since 1986 found that more than 4,000 local sponsors provided about 130 million meals at more than 35,000 feeding sites in fiscal 2001. The number of children served in July 2001 (2.1 million per day) was about 14 percent of the number who received free or reduced-price school meals each day during the previous school year. On average, SFSP meals provided the levels of key nutrients recommended for school meals. This nationally representative study surveyed State administrators, sponsor staff, and site staff on program operations and on factors that affect participation. (E-FAN-03-001), March 2003.

Summer Feeding Design Study: Final Report—The executive summary and three accompanying volumes of this report describe the design of a national study of USDA's Summer Food Service Program (SFSP). The SFSP was created in 1975 to provide children from low-income families with nutritious meals when school is not in session. On a typical summer day, the program provides meals to more than 2 million children. Since 1975, eligibility criteria, administrative procedures, and funding levels have changed. The study, which is currently underway, will describe program operations and assess how they contribute to participation levels and the nutritional benefits of SFSP participation. (E-FAN-01-004), October 2000.

USDA Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program

Food Assistance Research Brief—The USDA Fruit and Vegetable Pilot Program Evaluation—A recent ERS study found this program was a popular strategy for getting kids to eat more fruits and vegetables. Many elementary and secondary school students who ate free snacks of fresh and dried fruits and fresh vegetables as part of USDA's Fruit and Vegetable Pilot Program said they improved their eating habits and were more willing to try unfamiliar fruits and formerly disliked vegetables as a result of participating in the pilot. Funded for the 2002-03 school year at $6 million by the 2002 Farm Bill, the pilot program also was considered a success by school staff members who ran it. (FANRR-34-14), August 2003.

Evaluation of the USDA Fruit and Vegetable Pilot Program: Report to Congress—Almost all schools participating in USDA's Fruit and Vegetable Pilot Program (FVPP) consider the program to be very successful and would like the pilot to continue. The 2002 Farm Act provided $6 million to the FVPP for the 2002-03 school year to improve fruit and vegetable consumption among the Nation's schoolchildren. The FVPP provided fresh and dried fruits and fresh vegetables free to children in 107 elementary and secondary schools. The intent of the pilot is to determine the feasibility of such a program and its success as assessed by the students' interest in participating. (E-FAN-03-006), April 2003.

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Last updated: Friday, July 26, 2013

For more information contact: Joanne Guthrie