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Grant Details

Grant Number: 3R21CA239061-02S1 Interpret this number
Primary Investigator: Richardson, Andrea
Organization: Rand Corporation
Project Title: Federal School Nutrition Policies, Student Food Insecurity and Bmi
Fiscal Year: 2021


Abstract

Project Abstract Food insecurity increased since COVID-19 and children who are food insecure are at increased risk of physical and mental health disorders. In response to pandemic-related shocks to food security across the United States, Congress made several provisions to expand federal nutrition assistance programs. However, school districts reported financial loss was a top concern and estimate over $626 million lost reducing schools' abilities to serve students in the future. The Community Eligibility Provision (CEP) allows schools to offer free meals to all students if 40% or more of their students are eligible for free and reduced-price meals. CEP eliminates the need for schools to use their districts' general funds to cover student meal debt. Compared to non-participating schools, those that participate in CEP may have been better positioned to provide emergency meals during the pandemic and they may also have better resources to continue serving meals in the coming year. The proposed study will provide national estimates of how CEP may protect against future pandemic-related food insecurity in households with children across diverse geographic settings. The specific aims are: 1) use restricted-use CPS- FSS microdata (pre-COVID-19 in 2012-2019 and post-COVID in 2020) of households with children to estimate whether the community-level proportion of children who attended public schools that participated in CEP attenuated post-COVID-19 increases in food insecurity rates in households with children; 2) integrate the CPS- FSS microdata (pre-COVID-19 in 2012-2019 and post-COVID in 2020) restricted to households with children who were in kindergarten in Fall 2010 with the parent study cohort of children in ECLS-K:2011 to incorporate known household history of CEP and food insecurity. Estimate whether community level proportion of children who attended public schools that participated in CEP attenuated post-COVID-19 increases in food insecurity rates in households with children; and 3) examine the impact of CEP on post-COVID-19 food insecurity disparities in Aims 1 and 2 by race/ethnicity. We achieve these objectives using nationally representative, ethnically diverse repeated cross-sectional data that span pre- and post- CEP implementation and COVID-19 and a longitudinal survey in the National Center for Education Statistics' Early Childhood Longitudinal Study (ECLS) program, i.e. the ECLS-K:2011, (n=18,200) which followed children from kindergarten through at least 5th grade collecting rich data on school meal participation, food insecurity, and socioeconomic status. We will use structural equation models for that allows us to test assumptions we make in structuring our analyses as natural experiments. We also incorporate multi-level and panel extensions to entropy balancing and data integration to improve balance between `treated' and `untreated' children in these natural experiments. The results are expected to improve our understanding of how federal school nutrition assistance programs can best prepare and respond to future pandemics and prolonged economic slow-downs.



Publications


None. See parent grant details.


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