Child Nutrition Programs

USDA's child nutrition programs help ensure that children are receiving nutritious meals and snacks that promote health and educational readiness. These programs are administered by USDA's Food and Nutrition Service, with a total cost of more than $23 billion in fiscal year 2018; more than 61 percent of total costs were allocated to the National School Lunch Program. ERS conducts research on USDA's child nutrition programs and their role in children's food security, diets, and well-being. See the report:

Children’s Food Security and USDA Child Nutrition Programs

ERS also examines challenges faced by child nutrition programs. For example, how are schools responding to changes in school meal programs mandated by the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010? See the report: 

School Meals in Transition

ERS has compiled a database of over 1,000 peer-reviewed research reports and articles covering a broad spectrum of food and nutrition assistance research based on both intramural and extramural research published at ERS and elsewhere. The database is searchable by title, lead author, topics such as school lunch and breakfast, year of publication, data set analyzed and exact word(s) or phrases contained in the publication’s bibliographic citation. See Food and Nutrition Assistance Research Reports Database.

Information about program eligibility requirements, benefits, and the application process is available from the Food and Nutrition Service.

For information and research results on individual programs administered by USDA that exclusively or primarily serve the nutritional needs of children, see: