Published: September 2008

ID #: 57925

Publisher: California Food Policy Advocates, Samuels & Associates, and Center for Weight and Health

Authors: Hecht K, Sharp M, Beller D, et al

See more related research


This report found that school districts fail to take advantage of healthier foods offered by the federal child nutrition commodity program, despite improvements in the nutritional quality of foods offered to schools by USDA. The study found that, in California, meat and cheese products accounted for more than 82% of the dollars spent on commodity foods, while only 13% were used to purchase fruits, vegetables, and legumes. Nationally, the study found that more than 50% of commodity foods are sent to processors before they arrive at schools. Processing is completely unregulated as to nutritional quality. As a result, the items most frequently purchased-ground beef, cheese and chicken-are served to children as hamburgers, pizza and chicken nuggets, which are high in calories and saturated fat. School districts need assistance in using the commodity program wisely and fully to assure the highest nutritional meal quality for their students.

Related Research

June 2006

Examining the Role of the Child Nutrition Commodity Food Program in Creating Healthy School Meals

This study will provide a rare assessment of the Child Nutrition Commodity Food Program, examining the nutrition quality of the foods made available by the program, the manner in which it operates, how school districts make use of the program and how the program assists or impedes school districts in complying with USDA school meal More

April 2024

Mixed methods evaluation of the COVID-19 changes to the WIC cash-value benefit for fruits and vegetables

Recent cash-value benefit (CVB) increases are a positive development to help increase WIC participant fruits and vegetables (FV) access. This mixed method study aimed to evaluate (a) the CVB changes’ impact on FV access among WIC child participants measured by CVB redemption rates, (b) facilitators and barriers to CVB changes’ implementation, and (c) differences in More

March 2024

Associations of Increased WIC Benefits for Fruits and Vegetables With Food Security and Satisfaction by Race and Ethnicity

The Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) provides nutrition support for racially and ethnically diverse populations. In 2021, the monthly cash value benefit (CVB) for the purchase of fruits and vegetables increased from $9 to $35 and was later adjusted to $24. This study investigated, by racial and ethnic groups, whether More