lunch tray with healthy food

Household Survey Brochure

Why is this study being done?

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.

Who is sponsoring the study?

USDA is conducting a study to gather information about the National School Lunch Program (NSLP) and School Breakfast Program (SBP), including: a)who they serve, b) how participants feel about the meals they receive, and c) how well the process works to transfer benefits to those who need them.

Who is conducting the study?

Westat, a private research company, has a contract with FNS to conduct this study.

Why did you choose my household?

Your school is participating in this study, and your household was chosen randomly from a list of households.

How long will the survey take?

The survey, which will be done over a video internet (e.g., Zoom) call, usually takes 30-45 minutes to complete, plus some time to prepare.

Will I be compensated for participating?

Yes. You can receive up to a $60 Visa gift card for completing the survey as a thank you for your time.

When and where will the survey take place?

We will conduct the survey via a video internet (e.g., Zoom) call at a time that is convenient for you. You are not required to have your camera on.

What questions will you ask?

The survey asks about:

  • Participation in the school breakfast and lunch programs
  • Opinions about school meals
  • Your household’s size and sources of income

Do I have to do this study?

No, participation in this research study is voluntary – it is your choice if you want to participate or not. 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.

Why are you asking about income?

Income information tells us a little about families who qualify for meal benefits. The information you provide will be kept private and will be used for research purposes only.

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.

When I visit the study website, I see the study is referred to as the “NSMS” and as “APEC.” What is the difference?

Both acronyms are used to refer to this research study. States and school districts know it as “APEC,” and households know it as the National School Meals Study (NSMS). They are two names for the same study.

Can you complete the survey in a language other than English?

You may complete the survey in English or Spanish.

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.

Who do I contact if I have a question or need help scheduling a survey?

Call us toll-free at <TOLL FREE NUMBER> or send an email to <EMAIL ADDRESS> You may also visit our study website at: <URL> We are happy to assist you!