Children’s Food Security and Participation in the National School Lunch Program

Ariun Ishdorj, Lindsey Higgins


In 2013 nearly 8.6 million U.S. children lived in households in which one or more child was food insecure. The National School Lunch Program (NSLP) is one of the largest federally funded food and nutrition assistance programs that aims to provide nutritious, well-balanced lunches for school-age children. Given the important role this program plays on food and nutrient intake of school-age children, we examined the relationship between participation in NSLP and children’s food security status. After controlling for the endogeneity of program participation we found that program participation have positive effect on food insecure and marginally food secure children, but the effect was not significant. Having enough time to eat school meals played an important role on students’ decision to participate in NSLP. We also found that marginal food security group shared more characteristics with the food insecure group rather than with the high food secure group.

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