Westat to Enhance Measures for Estimating Errors in School Meals Programs

The Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) requires key information on the annual error rates and improper payments for the National School Lunch Program and School Breakfast Program, which feed millions of children each year. In support of this reporting requirement, FNS has selected Westat to conduct the fourth study in the Access, Participation, Eligibility, and Certification (APEC) Study Series (APEC-IV). We will provide solutions and enhancements to make APEC-IV more responsive and flexible to adjust to changing requirements. This 5-year contract is valued at $9 million.

Building on our experience conducting the earlier study, APEC-IV will add to the series by calculating updated, nationally representative estimates of improper payments in the school meals programs. Updates to the data collection methods will increase robustness of estimates while improving cost efficiency.

Westat will also provide a new communication plan, keeping FNS project stakeholders abreast of the planned methodology; data collection challenges encountered; and the proposed solutions, analyses, and preliminary findings. We have also incorporated data visualization tools to assist in communicating both the methodology and improper payment estimates results.

“We look forward to working with FNS in building on the previous APEC studies and incorporating enhancements. The data will help inform the development of strategies for better fiscal management and steps to ensure that benefits are received by those in need,” notes Laurie J. May, Ph.D., Vice President for Social Policy and Economics Research.

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