Date of Degree Completion
Master of Science (MS)
Dr. Ethan Bergman
Second Committee Member
Third Committee Member
Dr. Timothy Englund
Objectives: Examined differences in school lunch meals (served and consumed) brought from home (LBFH) versus National School Lunch Program (NSLP) using Healthy Eating Index 2010 scores for assessment of Meal Quality by component food groups. Influence of beverage selections on HEI-2010 scores were examined for each meal origin.
Methods: Digital plate waste estimations were analyzed for 509 NSLP meals and 524 LBFH from 2nd-5th-grade students in four elementary schools during the 2011-2012 academic year. Nutrient Data Software for Research (NDSR) determined food groups and nutrients for calculations. Independent t-tests compared NSLP and LBFH meal components. Two one-way ANOVA tests compared HEI-2010 dietary components of the following beverage selections: 1% plain milk, non-fat flavored milk, 100% fruit juice, sugar-sweetened beverage (SSB), or water/no beverage.
Results: NSLP (90% non-fat flavored or low-fat plain milk) and LBFH (75% water/none or SSB) vary widely in beverages selected. LBFH provided significantly (p < 0.05) more Whole Grains (NSLP 2.8/5pts vs LBFH 4.7pts) and Seafood & Plant Proteins (NSLP 0.5/5pts vs LBFH 1.7pts) than NSLP. NLSP provided more Dairy (NSLP 9.3/10pts vs LBFH 4.7pts). NSLP scored higher in Total Protein, and Reduced Empty Calories. Both meal origins show need for improvement in Greens/Bean Vegetables and Seafood/Plant Proteins. Selection of 1% plain milk resulted in a significantly higher HEI-2010 scores (NSLP served 55.7/100pts, consumed 53.9pts and LBFH, served 62.1, consumed 60.2).
Applications: Child Nutrition Professionals consistently provide nutritious beverages like 1% plain milk, non-fat flavored milk, and 100% juice in NSLP meals. LBFH would benefit from elimination of SSB. A “milk only” line for children with LBFH may encourage milk consumption and improve HEI scores of LBFH. Increased nutrition education to teachers, staff, parents, and children on the effects of various beverages on dietary quality would be appropriate to further improve beverage selection and meal quality.
Barbee, Mary K., "Beverage Selections and Presence Affect Health Eating Index Scores in Lunches of Elementary Age Children, Whether from Home or School" (2015). All Master's Theses. 224.