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Letters of Support

Why is it important for SFAs to participate?

It is important for SFAs and schools to participate, because the study findings will be used to recommend improvements to the NSLP and SBP and it is important that those recommendations account for as many SFAs’ experiences as possible.

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What participation entails:

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For Study Sampling, SFAs are asked to:

  • Review, confirm and/or update sampled school contact information.
  • Engage their sampled schools by notifying them about the study and encouraging participation.

For Data Collection, SFAs are asked to:

  • Participate in electronic data requests, an SFA pre-visit questionnaire, and a school pre-visit questionnaire:
    • To facilitate the onsite data collection visit; and
    • Provide Household sampling information.
  • During the onsite data collection visit, provide data to APEC-IV field data collectors to complete:
    • Application Abstraction;
    • CEP records review (if participating in CEP); and
    • SFA meal claim data submitted to the State for a specific target month during the 2023-2024 SY.
  • After the onsite data collection visit, SFA Directors will be asked to:
    • Provide additional SFA administrative data (as needed);
    • Complete a web-based survey (the SFA Director Survey) about your SFA’s process for implementing the NSLP and SBP; and
    • Potentially participate in a qualitative interview asking further details about SFA processes (to be determined at a later date).

A new feature for APEC-IV:

The current APEC study in the series is APEC-IV, and it will collect data on SY 2023-2024. For APEC-IV, each SFA will have access to a study dashboard that will:

  • Allow them to monitor the completion of data collection activities, both at the SFA and school level.
  • Provide enhanced communication between the SFA and the APEC-IV study team.
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About the SFA Director Survey:

This web survey is part of the APEC-IV research study. While Section 28 of the National School Lunch Act requires SFAs to cooperate with FNS research studies, a staff member’s individual participation in the survey is voluntary. You may skip any question you do not wish to answer and you can stop the survey at any time. Refusal to participate will not have any impact on your district or your role at the SFA.

What will be asked:

The survey will take a maximum of 25 minutes, and will ask questions about the following topics related to the National School Lunch Program (NSLP) and/or the School Breakfast Program (SBP):

  • Participation in special provisions (Provision 2/3 or CEP) (if applicable),
  • Process to certify students for free and reduced-price meals;
  • Verification process;
  • How the SFA and its schools record and claim all meals served; and
  • Any other relevant information about your SFA’s processes regarding the school meal programs.

Survey Results and Privacy:

Many steps are taken to keep your data private to the full extent allowed by law. Any reports we prepare will combine your answers with those from other SFA directors in the study to summarize what we learn. Neither your name nor the name of your SFA will be in the reports we prepare. Nothing you report is shared with the schools in your SFA, other SFAs or any agency that provides benefits to your SFA. Participating in the survey may not help you individually, but it may help us better understand how to reduce error rates in the school meals programs.

About the SFA Director Survey:

All information gathered from States, SFAs, schools and student households is for research purposes only and is kept private. All responses will be grouped with those of other participants, and no individual State, SFA, school or household will be identified in public documents or data files.

Participation in APEC-IV will not affect meal reimbursements to participating SFAs and schools, nor will it affect the meal program benefits received by participating student households.

About the secure FTP site and instructions on uploading data files:

[ This section will include screenshots and step-by-step instructions that will also be available in the Reference Guide for Preparing SFA Date Files (D2).]