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Do Means-Tested School Lunch Subsidies Change Children's Weekly Consumption Patterns?

Author

Listed:
  • Howard, Larry L.

    () (California State University, Fullerton)

  • Prakash, Nishith

    () (University of Connecticut)

Abstract

This article examines whether the means-tested component of the National School Lunch Program changes beneficiaries' dietary patterns by taking advantage of variation across public school districts in the financing of and demand for lunch and nutrition programs. Using data on fifth grade public elementary school children in the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study-Kindergarten (2003-2004), we find significant increases in weekly rates of consumption amongst fully and partially subsidized children. Our estimates also suggest that the increase was for items known to be a rich source of vitamins and minerals that are essential for children's health and development. The effects are larger for fully subsidized children relative to partially subsidized children, which suggests the nominal price of school lunch is a binding constraint for certain children on the margin of eligibility for the subsidies. To the extent that children from low-income households experience undernourishment with greater frequency, policy discussion focusing exclusively on the link between obesity and program participation is overlooking positive effects on those who are directly subsidized.

Suggested Citation

  • Howard, Larry L. & Prakash, Nishith, 2009. "Do Means-Tested School Lunch Subsidies Change Children's Weekly Consumption Patterns?," IZA Discussion Papers 4427, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  • Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp4427
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Hilary W. Hoynes & Diane Whitmore Schanzenbach, 2009. "Consumption Responses to In-Kind Transfers: Evidence from the Introduction of the Food Stamp Program," American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, American Economic Association, vol. 1(4), pages 109-139, October.
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    3. repec:mpr:mprres:5673 is not listed on IDEAS
    4. 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).
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    6. Peter Hinrichs, 2010. "The effects of the National School Lunch Program on education and health," Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 29(3), pages 479-505.
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    9. Philip M. Gleason & Carol W. Suitor, 2003. "Eating at School: How the National School Lunch Program Affects Children's Diets," American Journal of Agricultural Economics, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association, vol. 85(4), pages 1047-1061.
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    12. Dixon, Helen G. & Scully, Maree L. & Wakefield, Melanie A. & White, Victoria M. & Crawford, David A., 2007. "The effects of television advertisements for junk food versus nutritious food on children's food attitudes and preferences," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 65(7), pages 1311-1323, October.
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    14. Janet Currie, 2003. "U.S. Food and Nutrition Programs," NBER Chapters,in: Means-Tested Transfer Programs in the United States, pages 199-290 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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    As found by EconAcademics.org, the blog aggregator for Economics research:
    1. Are school lunch subsidies useful?
      by Economic Logician in Economic Logic on 2009-11-12 21:23:00

    More about this item

    Keywords

    dietary patterns; National School Lunch Program; subsidies;

    JEL classification:

    • I38 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Welfare, Well-Being, and Poverty - - - Government Programs; Provision and Effects of Welfare Programs

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