The Impact of Chile's School Feeding Program on Education Outcomes
Chile operates one of the oldest and largest school feeding programs in Latin America, targeting higher-calorie meals to relatively poorer schools. This paper evaluates the impact of higher-calorie meals on the education outcomes of public, rural schools and their students. It applies a regression-discontinuity design to administrative data, including school enrollment and attendance, first-grade enrollment age and grade repetition, and fourth-grade test scores. There is no evidence, across a range of specifications and samples, that additional calories affect these variables. The paper suggests that the focus of Chilean policy should further shift to the nutritional composition of school meals, rather than the caloric content.