Did the New School Meal Standards Improve the Overall Quality of Children’s Diets?
39 Pages Posted: 14 Jul 2020
Date Written: February 27, 2020
School meal programs represent the second largest form of food assistance in the United States. Schools receive federal reimbursements, totaling $17 billion in 2018, provided they meet certain nutritional standards. We document the impact of consuming school food, rather than home-prepared food, on diet quality as standards changed under the Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act (HHFKA). Pre-HHFKA, school food increased dietary quality for relatively disadvantaged children, with null-to-negative effects among all other students. Post-HHFKA, we find large improvements across the board, mainly driven by older, higher-income students although younger, lower-income students also experienced non-trivial gains.
Keywords: school food programs, Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act, dietary quality, child nutrition reauthorization act, fixed-effects quantile estimation
JEL Classification: C31, D12, I12, I18, Q18
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