Document Type


Date of Degree Completion

Spring 2023

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Health Sciences

Committee Chair

Dr. Kelly Pritchett

Second Committee Member

Dr. Tafere Belay

Third Committee Member

Dr. Nicole Stendell-Hollis

Fourth Committee Member

Alexandra Epstein-Solfield


This study explored the impact of the USDA COVID-19 Universal Free Meal (UFM) waivers on family life, school meal participation, and child eating habits from parents with children in Central Washington state (WA) schools. n = 119 parents/caregivers with students who were in K-12th grade in Central WA from August 2019-February 2023 completed a 10 question electronic, and descriptive survey. The survey measured changes in participation in school lunch/breakfast pre to post COVID-19 waiver, which provided free meals for all children, and whether UFM were beneficial to families, impacted perception of school food, child’s sense of community at school and/or child’s willingness to try new foods. Results suggested that students were more likely to participate more frequently in school lunch and school breakfast when meals were free compared to when they were not free (χ2 2, N=238= 18.433, p = 2, N=238 = 19.032, p =