Panel Paper: School Nutrition and Student Discipline: Effects of Schoolwide Free Meals

Saturday, November 10, 2018
8206 - Lobby Level (Marriott Wardman Park)

*Names in bold indicate Presenter

Nora Gordon, Georgetown University and Krista Ruffini, University of California, Berkeley

We examine whether expanding access to free lunch to all students in high-poverty schools affects the use of suspensions. Under the Community Eligibility Provision (CEP), schools serving sufficiently high-poverty populations may enroll their entire student bodies in free lunch and breakfast programs, extending free meals to some students who would not qualify individually and potentially decreasing the stigma associated with free meals. We use school discipline measures from the Civil Rights Data Collection and rely on the timing of pilot implementation across states to assess how disciplinary infractions evolve within a school as it is eligible to join CEP. We conclude that the program decreased the use of out-of-school suspension nationally. These results are sensitive to the inclusion of a small set of large school districts with high baseline suspension rates, some of which contemporaneously implemented school discipline reforms.

Full Paper: