Location, School Characteristics, and the Cost of School Meals

The U.S. Department of Agriculture reimburses schools for meals provided to students participating in the National School Lunch and School Breakfast Programs. Reimbursement amounts are based on national average estimated costs of meal production. Food prices, however, vary across the United States, suggesting regional cost differences. This paper uses a qualityadjusted translog variable-cost function to show how costs per meal vary across twenty-one U.S. locations. The average deviation from national average cost is about $0.38 per meal; the average cost deviation attributed to input prices is $0.17 and the scale effect is $0.135.


Ollinger, Michael; Ralston, Katherine L.; Guthrie, Joanne F., Location, School Characteristics, and the Cost of School Meals, Journal of Agricultural and Resource Economics, Volume 37, Issue 3, December 2012, Pages 379-397

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