FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS ABOUT THE NSMS SURVEY
- What is the purpose of the study?
- Who is conducting the study?
- Why did you choose my household?
- How long will the survey take?
- Will I be compensated for participating?
- What does participation involve?
- What questions will you ask?
- Do I have to participate in this study?
- Why are you asking about income?
- Can this impact any benefits my household gets?
- What is the difference between APEC and NSMS? / When I visit the study website, I see the study is referred to as the “NSMS” and as “APEC.”
- Can I complete the survey in a language other than English?
- What about my privacy?
1. What is the purpose of the study?
The United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Food and Nutrition Services (FNS) is sponsoring this study to learn about the students and their households who participate in the school meal programs. FNS wants to know more about who receives school meal benefits, whether benefits are reaching those who need them, and how the process works to transfer benefits from the government to schools and households.
2. Who is conducting the study?
Westat, a private research company, has a contract with FNS to conduct this study.
3. Why did you choose my household?
Your child’s school is participating in this study, and your household was chosen randomly from a list of households.
4. How long will the survey take?
The survey takes up to 45 minutes to complete. It may be completed in parts – whatever works best for your schedule!
5. Will I be compensated for participating?
Yes. To thank you for your time, you can receive up to $60 for completing the survey. The total amount depends on the tasks you complete. You will get a $40 Visa gift card for completing the survey and $20 more on the card if you provide documents to verify your income.
6. What does participation involve?
If you decide to be part of the study, the NSMS study team will ask you to complete a survey with an interviewer over the telephone or via Zoom, at a time that is convenient for you.
7. What questions will you ask?
The survey interviewer will ask you questions about your child’s experience with the meals provided by their school as well as your household size and income used to determine eligibility for school meal benefits. A worksheet will be provided to help you prepare for the survey.
8. Do I have to participate in this study?
No, participation in this research study is voluntary – it is your choice if you want to participate or not. Your participation in the survey will not affect your eligibility for school meals, either now or in the future. If you participate, you can also skip any questions you do not want to answer. However, your opinions and experience matter and help to improve these programs.
9. Why are you asking about income?
Income information tells us a little about families who quality for meal benefits. The information you provide will be kept private and will be used for research purposes only.
10. Can this impact any benefits my household gets?
No. Your participation and answers will not affect any benefits you may receive. Also, it will not impact any benefits your school or school district receives.
11. What is the difference between APEC and NSMS? / When I visit the study website, I see the study is referred to as the “NSMS” and as “APEC.”
Both acronyms are used to refer to this research study. States and school districts know it as the Access, Participation, Eligibility and Certification Study or “APEC,” and households know it as the National School Meals Study (NSMS). They are two names for the same study.
12. Can I complete the survey in a language other than English?
You may complete the survey in English or Spanish.
13. What about my privacy?
We are very serious about protecting your privacy to the full extent required by the law. The study is reviewed and approved by an Institutional Review Board that is focused on protecting your rights and privacy as a study participant. All survey interviewers are required to sign a confidentiality agreement. This means they are prohibited from sharing or talking about your personal information to anyone other than authorized research staff. Your answers will be combined with those of other participants nationwide. The study results and reports will be summarized in such a way that no individual family or child can ever be identified.
Have a Question?
Need Help Scheduling a Survey?
Call us toll-free at 1-855-204-5740 or send email to SchoolMealsHelp@westat.com