School Lunch Before and After Implementation of the Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act
Department or Administrative Unit
Nutrition Exercise and Health Sciences
This study compares the mean nutrients selected and consumed in National School Lunch Program (NSLP) meals before and after implementation of the new nutrition standards mandated by the Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010 (HHFKA) in July 2012. Four elementary schools achieving HealthierUS Schools Challenge awards serving second through fifth grade students were selected to participate.
In Spring 2012, before implementation of meal standards mandated by the HHFKA, digital photographs of NSLP lunches were taken of second to fifth graders’ lunches in four elementary schools before and after the meals were consumed. In Spring 2013, after implementation of meal standards mandated by the HHFKA, digital photographs of lunch were again taken in the same schools before and after lunches were consumed. The photos were used to visually estimate the amounts of food items on trays and determine nutritional content of meals selected and consumed. The nutrition content of the lunches in 2012 was compared to those in 2013 by applying a one-way multiple analysis of variance (MANOVA) followed by post-hoc analyses
using multiple t-tests to compare mean nutrient amounts.
The current study revealed significant improvements in both selected and consumed key nutrients when comparing meals before implementation of the HHFKA (2012) to the meals after implementation of the HHFKA (2013) nutrition standards. These included reductions in sodium and the percentage of calories from saturated fat and a significant increase in fiber. A reduction in calcium selected and consumed was also observed.
Applications to Child Nutrition Professionals
The current study indicates that child nutrition professionals are making positive changes in their menu selections to meet the requirements of the HHFKA. However, child nutrition professionals may need to evaluate menus for calcium and make modifications as needed to enhance calcium rich foods selected in NSLP meals.
Bergman, E. A., Englund, T., Taylor, K. W., Watkins, T., Schepman, S., & Rushing, K. (2014). School Lunch Before and After Implementation of the Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act. The Journal of Child Nutrition & Management, 38(2).
The Journal of Child Nutrition & Management