School meal programs play a critical role in feeding children. Meals served in school are generally of better nutritional quality than those that students bring from home and have been linked to improved academic performance and household food security. The aim of this research brief is to highlight and summarize 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. The research found strong evidence that alternative breakfast models, such as breakfast in the classroom or grab-and-go breakfast, and restrictions on sales of snack foods and beverages can increase school meal participation.
Published: November 2022
Publisher: Healthy Eating Research
Authors: Hecht AA, Olarte DA, McLoughlin GM, Cohen JFW
Assessing participation in and implementation of summer electronic-benefits-transfer and non-congregate-meal programs in rural areasSummer EBT and non-congregate meals are summer meal options that have known associations with reducing food hardship and barriers to food access. But take-up can vary across states, which creates disparities among marginalized populations. The study aims to analyze the coverage, take-up, and implementation decisions made around Summer EBT and non-congregate meals. The research team More
Examining the economic value of free school meals to inform future policy decisions on expansion of free school meals in the U.S.Growing evidence suggests free school meal policies improve student health outcomes and nutrition equity. A key barrier to passage of these policies is concerns regarding potential costs, thus, a broader value for money evaluation is essential to inform policy decisions. This study aims to compare ‘intervention’ states with free school meal policies (i.e., universal free More