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Strategies to Improve School Meal Consumption: A Systematic Review

This systematic review evaluates studies examining initiatives, interventions, and policies to increase school meal consumption. Following PRISMA guidelines, this review was conducted using four databases and resulted in a total of 96 studies. The research evidence supports the following strategies to increase school meal consumption: (1) offering students more menu choices; (2) adapting recipes to More

Date: October 2021

Resource Type: Journal Article

Focus Areas: School & After School

Prevalence of Evidence-Based School Meal Practices and Associations with Reported Food Waste across a National Sample of U.S. Elementary Schools

Providing meals at school is an important part of the hunger safety net for children in the United States and worldwide; however, many children do not receive school meals even when they qualify for federally-subsidized free or reduced-priced meals. This study investigates the prevalence of several evidence-based practices that have previously been shown to increase More

Date: August 2021

Resource Type: Journal Article

Focus Areas: Nutrition Policy & Programs School & After School

Feeding Children and Maintaining Food Service Operations during COVID-19: A Mixed Methods Investigation of Implementation and Financial Challenges

The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) National School Lunch and Breakfast Programs are critical for the health and food security of U.S. schoolchildren, but access to these programs was disrupted by COVID-19 pandemic-related school closures in spring 2020. While temporary policy changes to the programs enabled school food authorities (SFAs) to pivot towards distributing More

Date: August 2021

Resource Type: Journal Article

Focus Areas: Nutrition Policy & Programs School & After School

Improving Access to Free School Meals: Addressing Intersections Between Universal Free School Meal Approaches and Educational Funding

Free and reduced price meal application data are used to allocate billions of dollars annually in education funding. However, schools serving universal free meals under the Community Eligibility Provision meal service option or USDA’s COVID-19 waivers do not typically collect school meal applications. The loss of this data has caused confusion among school administrators about More

Date: July 2021

Resource Type: Research Brief

Focus Areas: School & After School

7 Key Findings on The Benefits of Healthy School Meals for All

Schools play a vital role in promoting children’s health and well-being. In the United States, schools contribute significantly to children’s overall diet quality and can provide up to half of their daily calories, especially among children from low-income families. Providing healthy school meals for all is a policy opportunity to help all children eat healthier. More

Date: June 2021

Resource Type: Infographic

Focus Areas: School & After School

Strengthening the Impact of USDA’s Child Nutrition Summer Feeding Programs During and After the COVID-19 Pandemic

To address food insecurity during the COVID-19 pandemic, utilization of the USDA child nutrition summer feeding programs has drastically increased. Given the unprecedented use of the summer feeding programs, this research brief will (1) explain the meal pattern requirements and select operational differences between the summer feeding programs and the federal meal programs typically utilized More

Date: May 2021

Resource Type: Research Brief

Focus Areas: Nutrition Policy & Programs School & After School

Special Issue on School Nutrition and Meal Cost Study-I: Findings Related to Improving Diet Quality, Weight, and Disparities in U.S. Children

School meals are important contributors to the healthy diets of our nation’s children, especially those in food insecure households, according to new papers published in a special issue of the journal Nutrients. The papers address urgent policy challenges related to food security, childhood obesity, sugar consumption, and racial and ethnic disparities when it comes to More

Date: March 2021

Resource Type: Special Journal Issue

Focus Areas: Nutrition Policy & Programs School & After School

Schools Find Success in Reducing Sodium in Meals

Strong nutrition standards for school meals, consistent with evidence-based recommendations, position children for optimal health and wellbeing. Strong science supports the link between lowering sodium intake and better health. This new issue brief from Healthy Eating Research examines the recent history of sodium standards for school meals. It highlights current sodium intake among America’s children and School More

Date: September 2020

Resource Type: Research Brief

Focus Areas: Diet Quality & Healthy Weight School & After School

Urban School Food Infrastructure: Current Issues, Challenges, and Solutions

In the next year, an estimated 1 in 4 children will experience food insecurity (up from 1 in 6, pre-pandemic), disproportionately impacting children in low-income households and racial/ethnic minorities. To mediate loss of school meals during closures and reduce COVID-19 exposure, Congress authorized the USDA to permit local education authorities to apply approaches from the More

Feeding Our Children: Comparing Pandemic EBT and School Meals-to-Go

Food insecurity among households with children under 18 has increased dramatically during the COVID pandemic; from 15% in 2018 to 28% in June 2020. Governments and school districts have rapidly adopted policies to help children facing food insecurity as a result of the pandemic. Two leading policies include the Pandemic-Electronic Benefit Transfer (P-EBT) and school-based More

Date: September 2020

Resource Type: Commissioned Research Project Summary

Focus Areas: Nutrition Policy & Programs