School Food Purchase Study-III Final Report from the USDA

"This study is the third School Food Purchase Study (SFPS-III) commissioned by the Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) of the US Department of Agriculture (USDA). The study was undertaken to fulfill the requirements of Section 4307 of the Food, Conservation, and Energy Act of 2008. It provides national estimates of the quantity, value and unit price of food acquisitions by public unified school districts participating in the National School Lunch Program (NSLP) and School Breakfast Program (SBP) during school year (SY) 2009/10. Data on the 48 contiguous states and the District of Columbia were collected from a nationally representative sample of 420 school districts. In addition to providing data on food acquisitions, the participating districts provided information on district characteristics, procurement practices, and food service operations. The study examines the relationship between these factors and the food costs that were incurred, and compares the results to those of SFPS-II which covered SY 1996/97 and used a very similar methodology. SFPS-1, which covered SY 1984/85, used a somewhat different methodology, making direct comparison difficult, but the general trend over the quarter century between
the first and third study is discussed where appropriate.
For the first time in this series of studies, the same information was also collected for Hawaii, which is a single school district, and for a representative sample of school districts in Alaska. These two states are covered in a separate report.1 School food authorities in Puerto Rico provided information on district characteristics, procurement practices, and food service operations but were unable to compile comparable food acquisition data.
A second innovation in this study is that an analysis of the nutritional profile of the acquired food items was undertaken for the first time. The results of that analysis are covered in a separate report. A third change from the prior studies is that the total cost, quantity, and cost per pound of food acquisitions are calculated per 100,000 meal equivalents served, as well as per 1,000 students with access to the NSLP. (A meal equivalent is one lunch equals 1.5 breakfasts.) The new measure permits better comparisons of cost efficiency."