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Project Title:

Estimating Children Eligible for School Nutrition Programs Using the American Community Survey
PIN: DBASSE-CNSTAT-08-01        

Major Unit:

Division of Behavioral and Social Sciences and Education

Sub Unit: Committee on National Statistics

RSO: Kirkendall, Nancy

Subject/Focus Area: Behavioral and Social Sciences

Project Scope
An ad hoc panel of experts will study technical and operational issues in using the American Community Survey (ACS) to provide small-area estimates of children who are eligible for free and reduced price school lunch and breakfasts.  (The study responds to a request from the Food and Nutrition Service of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to the Committee on National Statistics.)  The purpose of the estimates is to develop percentages by which USDA would reimburse school districts for their expenses in providing free breakfasts and lunches to all children attending specified schools. The panel will consider the ability of the ACS to provide estimates for school attendance areas, built by aggregating estimates for census tracts and block groups. It will consider the quality of these estimates in terms of sampling variability, reporting error, timeliness, and other features that may affect their fitness for use, and compare them with estimates from other data sources, such as the Census Bureau’s Small Area Income and Poverty Estimates Program. It will also address the process by which school districts and USDA can best obtain needed ACS estimates from the Census Bureau and the effects that expanding free school meals may have on participation in meal programs. The panel will issue three reports during a 36-month study: (1) a report at the end of year one that outlines methods for developing estimates; (2) a report at the end of year two that includes simulated estimates for 5-6 large school districts and recommendations for estimation methods and processes; and (3) a report completed within 9 months of the release of ACS estimates for census tracts and block groups (scheduled for December 2010) that implements the panel’s recommended approach on production ACS data.

"Note (05/24/2011): Only two reports will be issued from the study instead of the three originally planned. The second and final report is expected to be issued in fall 2011."

The project is sponsored by the U.S. Department of Agriculture

The approximate start date for the project is April 30, 2009

Project Duration: 36 months    

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Committee Membership
Committee Membership

 Meeting 1 - 09/01/2009
 Meeting 2 - 10/29/2009
 Meeting 3 - 12/05/2009
 Meeting 4 - 04/08/2010
 Meeting 5 - 06/21/2010
 Meeting 6 - 09/21/2010
 Meeting 7 - 01/11/2011
 Meeting 8 - 03/03/2011
 Meeting 9 - 04/06/2011
 Meeting 10 - 05/31/2011


Reports having no URL can be seen
at the Public Access Records Office
Developing and Evaluating Methods for Using American Community Survey Data to Support the School Meals Programs: Interim Report
Using American Community Survey Data to Expand Access to the School Meals Programs