Did the New School Meal Standards Improve the Overall Quality of Children’s Diets?

39 Pages Posted: 14 Jul 2020

See all articles by Travis Smith

Travis Smith

University of Georgia

Eliza Mojduszka

US Department of Agriculture

Shun Chen

University of Georgia

Date Written: February 27, 2020

Abstract

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

Suggested Citation

Smith, Travis and Mojduszka, Eliza and Chen, Shun, Did the New School Meal Standards Improve the Overall Quality of Children’s Diets? (February 27, 2020). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3631335 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3631335

Travis Smith (Contact Author)

University of Georgia ( email )

Athens, GA 30602-7509
United States

Eliza Mojduszka

US Department of Agriculture ( email )

1400 Independence Ave, SW
South Building
Washington, DC 20250
United States
(202) 690-5415 (Phone)

Shun Chen

University of Georgia ( email )

Athens, GA 30602-6254
United States

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