Abt Associates: Bold thinkers driving real-world impact
An easier, more direct method of validating a student’s eligibility for free school meals under the National School Lunch Program may mean more low-income children may receive them, according to a study conducted by Abt Associates. The two-year study involved Abt’s evaluation of the feasibility and effectiveness of verifying families’ school meal applications using information they have already submitted to Medicaid. The research, commissioned by USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service, involved interviews with State Child Nutrition & Medicaid Agencies in six states; telephone forums with 15 Local Education Agencies (LEAs) across four states; and surveys of 79 LEAs. In assessing the value of direct verification, Abt considered its impact on administrative burdens and costs to school districts; the privacy of parents or guardians who may not be comfortable answering intrusive questions; and finally, the potential effect of direct verification to keep thousands of eligible children from slipping through the cracks each year and losing meal benefits because of the lack of verification paperwork.
Abt Associates is a mission-driven, global leader in research, evaluation and program implementation in the fields of health, social and environmental policy, and international development. Known for its rigorous approach to solving complex challenges, Abt Associates is regularly ranked as one of the top 20 global research firms and one of the top 40 international development innovators. The company has multiple offices in the U.S. and program offices in more than 40 countries.