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Do School Lunch Subsidies Change the Dietary Patterns of Children from Low- Income Households?

Author

Listed:
  • Larry Howard

    () (California State University, Fullerton)

  • Nishith Prakash

    () (Cornell University, CReAM, and IZA)

Abstract

This article examines the effects of school lunch subsidies provided through the meanstested component of the National School Lunch Program on the dietary patterns of children age 10- to 13 yr in the USA. Analyzing data on 5,140 public school children in 5th grade during spring 2004, we find significant increases in the number of servings of fruit, green salad, carrots, other vegetables, and 100 percent fruit juice consumed in one week for subsidized children relative to unsubsidized children. The effects on fruit and other vegetable consumption are stronger among the children receiving a full subsidy, as opposed to only a partial subsidy, and indicate the size of the subsidy is an important policy lever underlying the program's effectiveness. Overall, the findings provide the strongest empirical evidence to date that the means-tested school lunch subsidies increase children's consumption over a time period longer than one school day.

Suggested Citation

  • Larry Howard & Nishith Prakash, 2011. "Do School Lunch Subsidies Change the Dietary Patterns of Children from Low- Income Households?," CReAM Discussion Paper Series 1101, Centre for Research and Analysis of Migration (CReAM), Department of Economics, University College London.
  • Handle: RePEc:crm:wpaper:1101
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Daniel L. Millimet & Rusty Tchernis & Muna Husain, 2010. "School Nutrition Programs and the Incidence of Childhood Obesity," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 45(3).
    2. Patricia M. Anderson & Kristin F. Butcher, 2006. "Reading, Writing, and Refreshments: Are School Finances Contributing to Children’s Obesity?," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 41(3).
    3. Robert A. Moffitt, 2003. "Means-Tested Transfer Programs in the United States," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number moff03-1, June.
    4. Kaufman, Phillip R. & MacDonald, James M. & Lutz, Steve M. & Smallwood, David M., 1997. "Do the Poor Pay More for Food? Item Selection and Price Differences Affect Low-Income Household Food Costs," Agricultural Economics Reports 34065, United States Department of Agriculture, Economic Research Service.
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    Cited by:

    1. Georgia S. Papoutsi & Andreas C. Drichoutis & Rodolfo M. Nayga Jr., 2013. "The Causes Of Childhood Obesity: A Survey," Journal of Economic Surveys, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 27(4), pages 743-767, September.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    National School Lunch Program; Dietary Patterns; Means-Tested Subsidies;

    JEL classification:

    • H51 - Public Economics - - National Government Expenditures and Related Policies - - - Government Expenditures and Health
    • I12 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - Health Behavior
    • I38 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Welfare, Well-Being, and Poverty - - - Government Programs; Provision and Effects of Welfare Programs

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