School Meal Data Collection Process to Be Evaluated by Westat for FNS


Westat will evaluate the school meal data collection process of the Food and Nutrition Service (FNS), U.S. Department of Agriculture. This study will provide FNS with key information about the methodologies and processes used to collect and report data. The evaluation objectives are to

  • Describe and evaluate data collection processes at the school/site, school food authorities (SFAs), and state levels
  • Identify potential sources of error during forms completion
  • Recommend improvements aimed at increasing data accuracy and validity

The National School Lunch Program and School Breakfast Program are federally funded meal programs that operate in public and nonprofit private schools and residential child care institutions. Most of the reporting and data collection on these programs is conducted at schools or sites, with data flowing up to SFAs and then to states and, ultimately, FNS.

The data collection approach includes document review, telephone interviews with FNS staff at headquarters and regional offices, and site visits to 4 states. For each state, we will visit 10 SFAs and 3 schools/sites for each SFA.

Westat will use a structured, iterative analytic approach that enables comprehensive documentation of case study data.

Finally, we will draft a set of best practices and host a webinar with FNS staff and state child nutrition directors to obtain input before refining and submitting the best practices document to FNS.