Promising Strategies to Increase Student Participation in School Meals

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 More

Implementing SNAP During the COVID-19 Pandemic: Perspectives from the National Network of State SNAP Administrators

SNAP was a critical component of the COVID-19 pandemic response. The beginning of the pandemic saw the largest increase in applications in the program’s history, and the pandemic fundamentally altered how SNAP agencies deliver benefits, interact with participants, and provide supportive services. The goal of this research was to examine SNAP implementation during the first More

Pandemic-EBT and Grab-and-Go School Meals: Costs, reach, and benefits of two approaches to feeding children during school closures — Lessons from COVID-19 responses

COVID-related school closures across the United States in spring 2020 disrupted the school meal programs that provide critical access to healthy food for millions of children — including children in elementary and middle school and adolescents in high school — from households with low incomes, leading to increased food insecurity. The United States Department of More

Kid Influencer Marketing: Gaps in Current Policies and Research

Most food advertisements that children see are for unhealthy foods and beverages. Paying “influencers”—online celebrities with large social media fan bases—to endorse or promote products on their social media accounts is a relatively new tool that companies use to market their products. Engaging kid influencers has the added bonus of reaching younger audiences. Kids may More

Recognizing and Supporting School Meal Programs as a Critical Nutrition Safety Net: Lessons from COVID-19

School closures due to the COVID-19 pandemic significantly disrupted children’s access to school meals in 2020 and 2021. School food service authorities (SFAs), which are responsible for planning, sourcing, preparing, and serving school meals, had to rapidly convert their usual on-site meal service operations to more flexible and mobile strategies to distribute meals to students More

Federal Nutrition Programs During the COVID-19 Pandemic: SNAP

The COVID-19 pandemic presented new challenges and exacerbated existing barriers faced by SNAP participants and administrators, such as inequitable access to SNAP online purchasing, overburdened administrative staff and agency systems, and low digital literacy and technology deficits. In response, SNAP online purchasing increased rapidly by March 2021, and program flexibilities and waivers allowed states to More

Federal Nutrition Programs During the COVID-19 Pandemic: WIC

In response to the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic, the Families First Coronavirus Response Act authorized USDA to approve waivers, requested by WIC state agencies and Tribal Nations, which would ensure WIC benefit access for families already participating in the program, as well as newly eligible families. These waivers and flexibilities provided researchers a More

USDA Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC) Vendor Criteria

This brief provides the results of an analysis of WIC vendor selection and authorization criteria, and operations and management policies established by the 89 administrative agencies in the United States. This study is the first to compile and examine a database of WIC vendor selection and authorization criteria, and operations and management policies established by More

Promising and Low-Cost Strategies to Improve School Meal Consumption

The aim of this research brief is to highlight and summarize the evidence of promising, low-maintenance, and low-cost strategies that can be implemented by school districts to increase the consumption of healthy school meals. All of these strategies have been associated with meaningful improvements in meal consumption and require minimal funding and technical support, making More

Promoting Equitable Expansion of the SNAP Online Purchasing Pilot

The USDA Online Purchasing Pilot, which allows SNAP participants to shop and pay for groceries online, rapidly expanded during the COVID-19 pandemic. From March 2020 to March 2021, the number of participating states increased from 5 to 47. This brief assesses whether the Pilot promotes healthy food access (using the criteria of availability and utilization) More