Food for thought: The effects of school accountability plans on school nutrition

David N. Figlio*, Joshua Winicki

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

107 Scopus citations


With the passage of the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001, school accountability is now federal law, continuing the recent trend of states implementing significant accountability systems for schools. This paper studies an unusual yet powerful school response to accountability systems. Using disaggregated school lunch menus from a random sample of school districts in Virginia, we find that schools threatened with accountability sanctions increase the caloric content of their lunches on testing days in an apparent attempt to boost short-term student cognitive performance. Moreover, we find that the schools that responded the most along these dimensions experienced the greatest improvements in standardized test scores.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)381-394
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Public Economics
Issue number2-3
StatePublished - Feb 2005


  • National School Lunch Program
  • School accountability
  • School nutrition
  • Standards of learning
  • Testing

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Finance
  • Economics and Econometrics

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