|Detailed Objective: The National School Lunch Program (NSLP) served about 28.4 million schoolchildren in 2003 and the School Breakfast Program (SBP) 8.4 million. Despite the number of meals served and school participation rates of 98 percent for the NSLP and 77 percent for the SBP, the meal programs account for only about 60 percent of available lunches and 20 percent of available breakfasts for eligible children. This response to the meals programs has attracted the attention of some policymakers who view the meals programs as tools for improving health.
This study will examine the roles local food prices and other factors have on participation of schools and children in USDA’s school meals programs. First, researchers will use simple statistical methods to compute the means and significance of key variables that describe participation in the meals programs. Second, using school revenue and expenditure data and accounting methods, the researchers will determine the cost and average revenue of each meal. Third, the analysis will examine the impact of local food prices and school and school district characteristics on school participation in the meals programs. Similar techniques will be used to estimate separate regressions of student participation in the meals programs. The explanatory variables are food prices and time varying family and school district characteristics.