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School Nutrition and Student Discipline: Effects of Schoolwide Free Meals

Nora Gordon () and Krista J. Ruffini

No 24986, NBER Working Papers from National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc

Abstract: Under the Community Eligibility Provision (CEP), schools serving sufficiently high-poverty populations may enroll their entire student bodies in free lunch and breakfast programs, extending free meals to some students who would not qualify individually and potentially decreasing the stigma associated with free meals. We examine whether CEP affects disciplinary outcomes, focusing on the use of suspensions. We use school discipline measures from the Civil Rights Data Collection and rely on the timing of pilot implementation of CEP across states to assess how disciplinary infractions evolve within a school as it adopts CEP. We find modest reductions in suspension rates among elementary and middle but not high school students. While we are unable to observe how the expansion of free school meals affects the dietary intake of students in our national sample, we do observe that for younger students, these reductions are concentrated in areas with higher levels of estimated child food insecurity. Our findings suggest that the impact of school-based child nutrition services extends beyond the academic gains identified in some of the existing literature.

JEL-codes: H52 I0 I20 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2018-09
New Economics Papers: this item is included in nep-agr and nep-ure
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