Published: February 2023

Publisher: Healthy Eating Research

Authors: Miller L, Lott M, Story M

See more related research


The national school breakfast and lunch programs administered by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) are cornerstone federal nutrition assistance programs. School meals are one of the healthiest sources of foods for school-age children, which is significant as some children receive up to half of their daily calories at school. Policy opportunities in 2023 could align school meal nutrition standards with the 2020-2025 DGA. Healthy Eating Research conducted a Rapid Health Impact Assessment (HIA) to better understand how these changes may impact the nutritional quality of school meals and school meal participation and the impact of meal consumption on students’ health and academic performance. This report follows a Rapid HIA conducted by HER in 2020 on a USDA-proposed rule to roll back many of the school meal nutrition standards at that time. This HIA is intended to connect existing research on school nutrition and health with the potential policy changes forthcoming from USDA that would align the school meal nutrition standards with the 2020-2025 DGA. Specifically, this Rapid HIA examines the potential impacts of changes to the nutritional quality of school meals on school meal participation, student dietary consumption, students’ health and wellbeing, and academic performance.

Download the Full Report here.

Download the Executive Summary for a summary of key findings.

Read the Press Release. 

Related Research

November 2023

Supporting the Wake Forest School of Medicine in implementing a WIC referral program within electronic health records to optimize WIC participation

The United States has an ongoing maternal and infant health crisis, characterized by stark disparities. The WIC program could equitably improve health outcomes, but it is underutilized. Identifying strategies for healthcare systems to efficiently connect pregnant patients with WIC is a public health and policy priority. This study will use the electronic health record (EHR) More

November 2023

Assessing participation in and implementation of summer electronic-benefits-transfer and non-congregate-meal programs in rural areas

Summer 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

November 2023

Assessing racial/ethnic coverage rates at the ZIP-code level for the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children

WIC can improve maternal and childhood health and nutrition, yet only 50% of people who qualify for WIC receive benefits, with racial disparities across states. Beyond state and national estimates, less is known about zip code-level racial/ethnic coverage rates or the factors influencing program reach. This study will be the first large-scale assessment of overall More