This year our grantees published important findings focused on many timely, policy-relevant topics, including school meals, nutrition assistance programs, food banks, and more.
The most viewed research items of 2022 from our website focused on school meals and SNAP.
School Meal Changes, Benefits, and Participation
- In the wake of pandemic-related changes and challenges to the provision of school meals, it is no surprise that this was the topic of conversation in our most popular blog post of 2022. The national school breakfast and lunch programs offer one of the healthiest sources of foods for school-aged children and reduce disparities across all socio-economic statuses, races, and ethnicities. Both the waivers allowing schools flexibility with nutrition standards and the nationwide free school meal waivers ended in 2022, and were replaced by transitional nutrition standards and required school meal applications. Two policy opportunities to further improve the nutritional quality of school meals, a new rule from USDA and the Child Nutrition Reauthorization, are expected in 2023.
- A recent research brief and infographic highlights and summarizes rigorous evidence from a new systematic review on strategies that increase school meal participation. These strategies have been shown to drive meaningful improvements in participation, require minimal funding, and are a low burden to implement, making them feasible strategies for school districts or states seeking to increase participation in school meals.
- COVID-related school closures across the United States in spring 2020 disrupted school meal programs, leading to increased food insecurity. The USDA responded with innovative policies that allowed states and school districts to implement the Grab-and-Go School Meals (GGSM) and Pandemic Electronic Benefit Transfer (P-EBT) programs. The research findings from a rapid-response study that assessed the reach, benefits, and costs of the P-EBT and GGSM responses during the spring of 2020 were another of the most viewed research items from this year.
- Healthy School Meals for All, also known as universal free school meals, provides all enrolled children in a school operating the National School Lunch or School Breakfast Programs a free breakfast or lunch, regardless of their family’s income. This infographic presents the 7 key findings from a systematic review highlighting the international evidence on the impact of healthy school meals for all for students and schools.
SNAP During the COVID-19 Pandemic
- In response to the new challenges and exacerbated barriers faced by SNAP participants and administrators during the COVID-19 pandemic, SNAP online purchasing increased rapidly by March 2021, and program flexibilities and waivers allowed states to adapt their standard operating procedures. This research brief presents key findings from three rapid-response studies that examined challenges and opportunities for SNAP due to these program changes.
- Not only did the pandemic fundamentally alter how SNAP agencies deliver benefits, interact with participants, and provide supportive services, but it also saw the largest increase in applications since the program’s history. We published an issue brief that examined SNAP implementation during the first year of COVID-19, and generated recommendations from SNAP administrators about how to better prepare SNAP for future emergencies and improve program administration.