School Meals

School cafeterias are the centerpiece of the school nutrition environment. Rudd research supports efforts to remove unhealthy snacks from schools in terms of nutrition and finances; prompt students to take a piece of fruit with their school meal; and remove flavored milk.

Our research on the National School Lunch Program has shown that the changes associated with the 2010 Healthy, Hunger Free Kids Act have made significant improvements in the school nutrition environment. Thus, rolling back the regulations is unwarranted.

Key studies have found:

  • Plate waste did not increase as a consequence of the Healthy, Hunger Free Kids Act
  • Students support efforts to improve the food in schools
  • Students who eat two breakfasts have a healthier body weight than students who skip breakfast
  • Students increase consumption of plain milk two years after flavored milk is removed
  • Students consume more fruit and milk when 100% juice is not offered
  • Removing competitive foods is associated with increased meal participation.

Currently, the Rudd Center is involved in a collaborative of researchers from across the United States called "Healthy School Meals for All." This team, which is led by the Nutrition Policy Institute (NPI) at University of California, Merrimack College, the Rudd Center, the University of New England, Boise State University, Stanford University, and Arizona State University, is examining the impact of Healthy School Meals for All policies on school meal participation and food security.

Children eating lunch at school


Key Studies