Certain Food Aspects of the School Lunch Program in New York City

Published by the Government Accountability Office on 1977-06-15.

Below is a raw (and likely hideous) rendition of the original report. (PDF)

                         DOCUMENT RESYME
027'13 -   A175278Q]

(Certain Food Aspects of the School Lunch Prograr in New York
City]. CED-77-89; B-178564. June 15, 1977. 5 pp. + 3 enclosures
(3 pp.)o
Report to Secretary, Department of Agriculture; by enry
Eschwege, Director, Community and Economic Development Div.
Request of Rep. Frederick W. Richmcnd.
Issue Area: Income Security Programs: Program Monitoring and
    Administration (1303); Food: Domestic Food Assistan-e
    Programs (1707).
Contact: Community and Economic Development Div.
Budget Function: Income Security: Public Assistance and Other
    Income Supplements (604).
Congressional Relevance: House Committee on Education and Labor;
    Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry.
    Rep. Frederick W. Richmond.
          Statistica' sampling techniques were used to estimate
the number of school lunches served in New York City that met or
failed to meet type A requirements. Four types of
lunches--cafeteria style, meal pack, basic (primarily soup and
sandwiches), and bulk (prepared food frozen in bulk) were tested
between January 10 and February 22, 1977. Findings/Conclusions:
Between 40% and 45% of the cafeteria, eal pack, and bulk
lunches and 27% of all basic lunches failed to meet the type A
nutritional requirements. Many of the lunches we'e purchased
from vendors and assembled into complete lunchtes by school
employees. In such cases, it ay be possible for the city to
obtain refunds for noncompliance from the vendors. The State has
never withheld program funds for noncompliance with type A lunch
requirements. In the 1975-1976 school year, the total cost for
the New York City lunch program was over $79.4 million, with the
Federal Government paying $62 million, the Sta t e $2.8 million,
and the city $14.6 million. Recommendations: The Food and
Nutrition Service (Department of Agriculture) should assess the
extent that this deficiency in New York City is a national
problem; see that the state or city recovers from vendors; and
take appropriate Federal action concerning reimbursement for
nonconforming lunches. (tJM)
       3% 1!   ...              UNITED STATES GENERAL ACCOUNTING OFFICE
                                        WASHINGTON, D.C. 20548


-11V                 B-178564

                                                                 JUN 1 5 71

                     The Honorable
                     The Secretary of Agriculture
                     Dear Mr. Secretary:
                          At the request of Congressman Frederick W. Richmond,
                     we are reviewing various food aspects of the school lunch
                     program in New York City. Although our work is not com-
                     plete, we note one aspect of the program requiring
                     immediate attention and action by the Department of
                     Agriculture. We will include additional information on
                     the results of our review in a subsequent report.
                          The Department's minimum Type A lunc' requirements
                     provide the framework for nutritionally adequate school
                     lunches and consist of specified amounts of protein-rich
                     foods, vegetables and fruits, bread, and milk. (See enc.
                     I.) We estimate, with 90-percent certainty, that during
                     our test period at least 40 percent of the lunches served
                     to children in New York City schools did not meet these
                     nutritional requirements. Department and New York State
                     school lunch officials need to take immediate steps to
                     assure that lunches served in New York City, and else-
                     where, meet minimum Type A requirements.
                          In March 1977 we briefed Department, State, and
                     City school lunch officials and Congressman Richmond's
                     office on the results of this aspect of our review in
                     New York City. City officials arec given access to the
                     details supporting our findings. '.etails on our tests
                     and the results follow.



     Under the school lunch program, Federal subsidies are
provided through the State to school districts on the basis
of the number of Type A lunches reported as served to
children in participating schools.  In New York City about
96 million school lunches were served during the 1975-76
school year at a total cost of over $79.4 million. Federal
reimbursements were $62 million (78 percent), State
reimbursements were $2.8 million (4 percent), and the City
provided the balance of $14.6 million (18 percent).

     The school lunch program is administered by the
Department's Food and Nutrition Service at the Federal
level, the New York State Education Department;s Bur .u
of School Food Management at the State level, and the
New York City Board of Education's Bureau of Schocl Lunches
at the City schools.  Many of the lunch components--
especially for meal pack style lunches--are purchased from
venorLs and assembled into complete lunches by local school
employees.  In such cases, it may be possible for the
City to obtain refunds from vendors that supplied meal
components not meeting Type A requirements.


     We used statistical sampling techniques to estimate
the nunmber of school lunches served in New ork City
schools that met or farled to meet Type A requirements
during our test periods.    We tested each of the four types
of lunches served--cafeteria style, meal pack, basic
(primarily soup and sandwiches), and bulk (prepared foods
frozen in bulk).    The first two types were tested between
January 10 and February 9, 1977; the other two, between
February 10 and 22, 1977. Of the lunches served, about
57 -arcent were cafeteria style, 30 percent were meal
pack 7 percent were bulk, and 6 percent were basic.

     Each type of lunch was tested s a separate sampling
universe which enabled us to project the results to all
lunches of that type ser-;ed during the respective test

     We scientifically selected and ampled 40 cafeteria
style, 40 meal pack, 16 bulk, and 16 basic lunches.
Respective school lunch managers told us that each sample
lunch we obtained was a Type A lunch.


     Dietitians at a Veterans Administration Hospital
laboratory in New York City tested the lunches for com-
pliance with Type A requirements basically using a weight
and measures test. The results are sown in the following

           Results of Tests for Type A Lunch Compliance
                     in New York City Schools
                                   Area falling short of requirements
Lunch         Total                               Meat and
style        sampled Passed Failed Meat Vegetable vegetable read Milk

  style        40      20     20       6    9         4         0   1

Meal pack      40      18     22       7    8         7         0   0

Bulk           16       6     10       3    6         1         0   0

Basic          16       9      7       1    4         2         0   0

As noted above, some of the meals had two components failing
to meet minimum requirements. The amounts by which the lunches
failed varied from a small part of one minimum component
(vegetable), to almost two-thirds of another (mea'), and to
all of a third (milk).
     The sample results, when projected to all lunches served
during the test periods, snow that:

        -- At least 40 percent of all cafeteria style lunches
           and 45 percent of all meal pack lunches served in
           New York City schools during the period January 10
           through February 9 did not meet Type A requirerents.!/

        -- At least 45 percent of all bulk lunches and 27
           percent of all basic lunches served in New York
           City schools during the period February 10
           through 22 did not meet the Type A requirements.l/

1/There is 9-percent certainty that a test of every lunch
  served .,.ld show a failure rate at least as much as our
  sample results.


     -- Federal reimbursement for lunches not meeting the
        Type A requirements during the test periods could
        be at least $3,718,000.  (See encs. II and III.)

     The Service has delegated responsibility of school lunch
program monitoring to Ne: York State. The State makes
administrative reviews of program operations to see whether
school districts are complying with program regulations.
These reviews have been primarily concerned with school
lunch participant eligibility and program accountability.   On
occasion, the re iews have uncovered some noncompliances  with
the Type A lunch requirements due to one or more missing
lunch components.  In such cases, Service regulations require
that State agencies assure corrective action. According to a
New Yotk State school lunch official, the State assured that
corrective action was taken through followup reviews    The
same State official said that program funds have never been
withheld from New York City because of noncompliance with
Type A lunch requirements.

     During a March 28, 1977, meeting held by Congressman
Richmond on New York City's school unch program, the
Congressman suggested that a joint Department/State task
force be formed to correct program problems.


     Because our projections showed that a significant
number of school lunches served in New York City fell short
of-meeting the Department's Type A requirements, we recommend
that you direct the Administrator, Food and Nutrition
Service, to:

     -- Determine the extent to which the problem of
        noncompliance with the Type A lunch requirements
        found in New York City is a national problem
        requiring broad, major corrective measures.

     -- See that State or City officials take appropriate
        action to establish and collect claims against
        vendors furnishing meal components not meeting
        contract specifications.

     -- Take appropriate action concerning Federal reimburse-
        ment for lunches served in New York City and eise-
        where that failed to meet Type A lunch requirements.


     As you know, section 236 of the Legislative
Act of 1970 requires the head of a Federal         Reorganization
written statement on actions taken on our   agency  to submit a
to the House Committee on                  recommendations
Committee on Governmental Government
                          Affairs not
                                      Oerations and the Senate
                                         ter than 60 days after
the date of the report and to the House and
on Appropriations with the agency's first    Senate ommittees
appropriations made more than 60 days ater request  for
                                             the date of the
      We are sending copies of this report to the
Committees; the House Committee on Education       above
                                              and Labor and
the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition,
other interested Committees and Members of        and Forestry;
Congressman Richmond; the Director,         Congress,  including
Budget; the Administrator, Food and Office  of Management and
                                     Nutrition Service; and
the Director, Office of Audit.

                                 Sincerely yours,

                                 Henry schwegu
Enclosures - 3

ENCLOSURE I                                                                                         ENCLOSURE I

        The Type A Lunch Pattern,..
        The nutritional goal or school lunches is to furnish at least one-third of the
        Recommended Daily Dietazy Allowances of the National Research Council for
        childre.i of various age grcups. The Type A lunch equirements provide the
        framework for nutritionally adequate school lurbches. The kiL.ds and amounts of
        foods listed in the Type A lunch pattern are based on the 1968 Recommended
        Daily Dietary Allowances for 10- to 12-year old boys nd girls.
           As specified in the National School Lunch Regulations, a ype A lunch shall
        contain as a minimum each of the following food components in the amounts

               Two ounce- (edible portion as served) of lean meat, poultry o fish; or two ounces
          of cheese; or one egg; or one-half cup of cooked dry beans or dry peas; or four tabl'-
          spoons of peanut butter, or an equivalent of any combination of the above-listed foods.
          To be cotrated in meeting this requirement. these foods must be sered in a main dish
          or in a main dish and one other menu item.
              Threr-fourths cup serving con isting of two or more vegetables or fruits c bot,.
          A serving ( cup or more) of ful-strentb vegetable or fruit juice may be counted to
          meet not more than 4 cup of this requirement.
               One slice of whole-grain or enriched bread; or a serving of other bread such as
           cornbread biscuits, rols, muffins made of whole-grain or enriched meal or four.
           FLUID       nILK
                 One-half pint of fluid milk as beverage.

           Add Other Foods not part of the lunch requi-ements as needed to complete
        lunches, to help improve acceptability and to provide additional food energy and
        other nutrients.

           To help assure that all Type A lunches meet tne nutritional goal, it is recom-
         mended that lunches include:
              . . . a VITAMIN A vegetable or fruit at least twice a week.
              . . . a VITAMID C vegetable or fruit several times a v-k.
              ...   several foods for IRON each day.
           It is also recommended that:
                . . . Fat in the Type A lunch be kept at a moderate level.
                . . . Iodized Salt be used in preparing lunches.

            Since younger hildren are not always able to eat the amounts specified in the
         Type A lunch, the regulations permit serving these children lesser amounts of
         selecte. foods than are specified above. /See GAO note below7.
            To meet the nutritional needs of teenagers, the regulations endorse encouraging
         the serving to older boys and girls of larger amounts of selected foods than are
         specified in the Type A lunch requirements.

    GAO Note:      For 6- to 10-year-old boys and girls, only 1/3 cup of cooked dry
                   beans or peas, or 3 tablespoons of peanut butter are required.

    Source:        Food and Nutrition Service
MqCLOcURE II                                                                                                                                                          ENCLOSURE              II

                                                                  01           ~ ~ ~ ~~SU
                                                                                       ~                           b'01

                      &A                 e%                                                        oerl
                               rctPe w                    .                    .               ,                                           ,
                               C         e
                                         '            "1

                      - i .4                                  '                                                                                 r                     I
                      * 0 Q4 t                            .- *41
                          le       @     I

                                   a{11~.                                                          ks                                           ..

                                               @.                          .              X        -            .e            N
                      3                  oe               0                                                        -

                               I     e       ..

   ta                                             1

        I4                                     a

                 od   -                      COCJ
                                            v fi
                                               Cb                                         X        z               r          0   n

    S1 Q                                 E -                                               f                                                    F                                      0>X

    _        _                           _                                                -                        N
    P            .                       ae O. Q0                                                                                                             0                m1

                                         O 4                                                                       '01                      _                                          -

                                             cl       ffi e            o                                                                                      e       go               O

    cn0                                  euoa                                             X                                                          1        *
                                                                                                                                                              e                r-      a

                                                      3            0               r S0   FI                                          N0                                           *   0

                                                                                                   fe     a   go

                                          4AAl                                                                                                                C       d        0       U
                                         X.                   aO                          0%
                                                                                          _                               m           -         l                          a           0

                                                          @e4                             e'                       o          o                                                U       0

                                         e                    @                                                                                               X   .            t:

                                                                                                                                           la                         .                a

                                                                                                                          C2-                                                  0

ENCLOSURE II!                                      ENCLOSURE II



    Lunch            Average daily    Reimbursement
reimbursement          number of          rate         Average daily
   category        lunches (note a)     (note b)       reimbursement

                         (1)              (2)           (2) x (2)
Paid                    37,985           13.25         $     5,033
Reduced                 18,078           63.25              11,434
Free                   509,751           73.25             373,393
       Total           565,814         c/68.90         $389,860

a/Average      ily number of lunches served in November 1976.

b/Reimbursement rates for the period January to June 1977.

c/Weighted average reimbursement rate:

       Total daily reimbursement       = $389,860 = 68.90 cents
       Total average number of lunches    565,814   per lunch