The U.S. Government Manual is an annual handbook of the federal government. The current edition is online at www.govinfo.gov.
It describes the functions and organization of federal government agencies, and may mention major programs, plus it provides public contact information. Browse to select an agency of interest and get an idea of what different programs it administers. You should see information such as the agency's mission that will provide context for the program you'll be investigating.
For example, search the online manual for "lunch" and you'll be referred to the Dept. of Agriculture (USDA). Looking at the USDA pages in the manual, you can see its mission, a mission for the subagency that runs the National School Lunch Program (NSLP), and an array of food assistance programs, one of which is the NSLP. You can also see that a couple of the other programs are pretty closely related to the NSLP: the School Breakfast Program and the Milk Program. Excerpts of what you'd see are at right.
The U.S. Government Manual may give you a URL for the agency responsible for your program. If not, or if the address is incorrect, use agency directories to find the agency. Possible directories are listed on Andersen Library's "Government Resources" web page, including:
You should mine web pages for both the specific agency running your program as well as the parent agency/department for information. What you will get will vary, but the parent agencies/departments should have strategic plans and something with a name like 'Performance and Accountability Report' on their web sites. Older accountability reports were called annual or biennial reports, and they may be in print/fiche format in Andersen Library's collection of Federal (U.S.) Documents. You'd need the classification numbers for the agency to find them. Ask for assistance at the Reference Desk.
The Department of Agriculture works to improve and maintain farm income ... The Department helps to curb and cure poverty, hunger, and malnutrition. It works to enhance the environment ...
Food, Nutrition, and Consumer Services
The mission of Food, Nutrition, and Consumer Services is to reduce hunger and food insecurity, in partnership with cooperating organizations, by providing access to food, a healthful diet, and nutrition education to children and needy people in a manner that supports American agriculture.
Food and Nutrition Service
The Food and Nutrition Service
(FNS) administers the USDA food assistance programs. These programs,
which serve one in six Americans, represent our Nation’s commitment to
the principle that no one in this country should fear hunger or
experience want. They provide a Federal safety net to people in need.
The goals of the programs are to provide needy persons with access to a
more nutritious diet, to improve the eating habits of the Nation’s
children, and to help America’s farmers by
providing an outlet for distributing foods purchased under farmer
assistance authorities. The Service works in partnership with the
States ... FNS administers
the following food assistance programs: ...
—The National School Lunch Program supports nonprofit food services in elementary and secondary schools and in residential child-care institutions. More than half of the meals served through these institutions are free or at reduced cost.
—The School Breakfast Program supplements the National School Lunch ...
—The Special Milk Program ...