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School Nutrition Bulletin 2223-28

Tuesday, March 14, 2023

Wisconsin School Nutrition School Meals News

Announcements from the WI DPI School Nutrition Team (SNT)

Updates from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA)

Food and Nutrition Service Research and Evaluation Plan for Federal Fiscal Year 2023

The Food and Nutrition Service conducts a variety of studies, evaluations, and related activities that respond to the needs of policy makers and managers and help ensure that nutrition assistance programs achieve their goals effectively. This plan provides short descriptions of projects that have been or will be funded in the fiscal year.

Scratch/Fresh Food Preparation

Due to increasing interest in serving more local and scratch-cooked foods in school meals, this project will collect data from School Food Authorities (SFAs) that do and do not prepare and serve these types of foods to help FNS better understand the influences on SFA capacity to prepare fresh foods as well as the challenges and benefits of scratch/fresh food preparation. Areas of investigation could include equipment, facilities, and infrastructure needs; labor and training considerations; financial implications; intersection with local foods; nutritional content of scratch-cooked foods; use of USDA tools and recipes; student and worker satisfaction; and marketing and public perception. This project will compare the various approaches SFAs take to serve fresh foods and examine differences across SFAs by size, urbanicity, and food preparation infrastructure (e.g., central kitchen, multiple production kitchens).

Evaluation of the Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program

It has been more than a decade since USDA evaluated the Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program (FFVP). That study found that FFVP students consumed more fruits and vegetables than nonparticipating students. Through 24-hour dietary recall interviews and other methods, this study will evaluate the impact of FFVP participation on student intake of fruits and vegetables and other outcomes of interest.

Child Nutrition (CN) Pulse Studies

This study will provide contractor support for short surveys of School Food Authorities (SFAs), Summer Food Service Program (SFSP) sponsors, Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP) operators, State agencies, and Local Education Agencies (LEAs) designed to collect timely information on topics of immediate interest or emerging concerns. Modeled after the Census Household Pulse Survey initiated by the U.S. Census Bureau during the COVID-19 pandemic, this effort will collect information from Child Nutrition program operators to examine policy-relevant information under a quick turnaround timeframe.

School Food Authority Food Distribution Study

Many School Food Authorities (SFAs) face difficulties securing contracts with distributors to purchase food products, and this trend was exacerbated by the pandemic. This study will use administrative data, surveys, and interviews with SFAs and distributors to examine the characteristics and operations of the school food distribution and processing network (including USDA foods), describe the logistics of moving food to and within SFAs, and identify challenges and opportunities in the bidding and contracting process.

Cooperative Agreement to Study Child Nutrition Workforce Issues

This cooperative agreement will fund a grantee to distribute subgrants to researchers studying topics relevant to FNS on the child nutrition workforce. Topics of interest might include workplace satisfaction, workplace conditions, professional standards, training, collective bargaining, wages, and other related topics.

Child Nutrition Analytics and Modeling

This effort intends to provide financial support for statistical analyses, modeling, and visual presentation of existing data to respond to legislative, budget, and policy questions critical to the Child Nutrition programs and to evaluate policy changes. Existing data sources include the FNS National Data Bank, FNS studies, and large national studies.

School Nutrition Meal Cost and School Food Purchase Study

This study, postponed from Fiscal Year 2022 due to the pandemic, has been expanded to include data collection on school food acquisitions. The School Nutrition and Meal Cost components will examine the nutritional content and quality of the meals offered and purchased at school, plate waste, the school nutrition environment, school food service operations, cost to produce school meals, as well as student participation, characteristics, satisfaction, and attitudes toward the school lunch and breakfast programs. The School Food Purchase components will provide national estimates of the type, quantity, dollar value and unit price of food acquisitions as well as overall changes in the composition of the entire school food market basket including food purchases for a la carte sales and the relative importance of donated USDA Foods. It will also examine the relationship between district characteristics, purchasing practices, and food costs. Additionally, this study will develop estimates of the cost of school meals for the outlying areas of Puerto Rico, Guam, the U.S. Virgin Islands, Alaska, and Hawaii.

Study of Child Nutrition Benefits Delivery Modernization

The last decade has seen increased use of Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) cards to deliver Child Nutrition benefits through programs such as the Summer EBT for Children (SEBTC) Demonstrations, which provide benefits to low-income children during summer months, and Pandemic EBT (P-EBT), which has provided benefits to children during school closures throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. While these programs have shown promise toward reducing food insecurity among households with children, SEBTC Demonstrations have been limited in scope, and, in some areas, P-EBT has faced challenges delivering benefits quickly and efficiently. This study will use a variety of qualitative methods – focus groups and listening sessions as well as a literature review and environmental scan – to draw on lessons learned from implementation of these programs and other similar programs to evaluate alternatives to deliver Child Nutrition benefits to households facing periods of planned or unplanned closures of schools or childcare facilities. These alternatives will focus on ways to quickly and efficiently address potential food insecurity for children and households during periods of school closure, while also being responsive to issues of program integrity.

Updates from the DPI School Nutrition Team

Indirect Cost Guidance for School Meal Programs

Indirect costs are incurred for the benefit of multiple programs, functions, or other cost objectives and therefore cannot be identified readily and specifically with a particular program or other cost objective. Indirect costs typically support administrative overhead functions such as accounting, payroll, purchasing, facilities management, utilities, etc.

Indirect Costs cannot be applied to the nonprofit food service account by using the Indirect Cost Ratio in Wisconsin. All costs that are being charged to the nonprofit school food service account (Fund 50) must be converted to direct costs annually.

Examples on how to make these into direct costs include:

  • Trash removal – Count or weigh bags of trash that are generated from food service operations only and calculate the ratio of the sanitation bill that applies to that number.
  • Non-food service labor, such as custodial, must be calculated via time study with only hours spent directly on food service charged to food service.
  • Rent – consultation with knowledgeable resource person on appropriate charges (i.e., local realty broker with knowledge of current rates for rent of similar facilities).
  • Utility charges - separately metered or current usage study by the local utility company.
  • Extermination services documentation of actual costs based on volume.

See the Maintenance of the Nonprofit School Food Service Account Nutshell for more information

Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program (FFVP) Application Period March 16 - April 14, 2023


The Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program (FFVP) application opens on Thursday March 16! The FFVP provides an opportunity for elementary students to try unique fresh fruits and vegetables that they might not otherwise get to taste. This exposure increases students’ fruit and vegetable consumption and positively impacts their health. For more information on the program, eligibility, and the application process, please visit the Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program webpage. The application will close on April 14, 2023.

Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction
Jill K. Underly, PhD, State Superintendent
125 S Webster Street
Madison, WI 53703
(608) 266-3390 • (800) 441-4563