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Do School Lunch Menus Influence National School Lunch Program Participation?


Author Info

  • Peckham, Janet G.
  • Kropp, Jaclyn D.
  • Mroz, Thomas A.
  • Haley-Zitlin, Vivian
  • Granberg, Ellen M.
  • Hawthorne, Nikki
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    he National School Lunch Program (NSLP) is one of the largest nutrition assistance programs in the United States, providing free and reduced-price lunches for income-eligible students as well as minimally subsidizing paid lunches for students that do not qualify to receive free or reduce-price lunches. Although the levels of nutrient deficiencies vary slightly across studies, the majority of the research concedes that NSLP participants consume more fats and sodium than non-participants, which may lead to higher rates of overweight and obesity. Furthermore, differences across income in dietary intake among NSLP participants may be an underlying cause of the previous mixed results. In this study, we investigate the relationship between income-eligibility status (Free, Reduced, or Paid) and entrée selection. Using a unique dataset tracking daily entrée choices and their nutritional value among elementary students at a suburban school district, this paper provides a novel approach to understanding the healthfulness of the NSLP. We find that while controlling for age, gender, and race, students that purchase free lunch choose entrees with less sodium than students purchasing either reduced-price or paid lunches. Relative to students purchasing free-lunches, students purchasing paid lunches also choose entrees with more protein and fat and entrees with fewer carbohydrates.

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    Bibliographic Info

    Paper provided by Agricultural and Applied Economics Association in its series 2013 Annual Meeting, August 4-6, 2013, Washington, D.C. with number 150398.

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    Date of creation: 2013
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    Handle: RePEc:ags:aaea13:150398

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    Keywords: National School Lunch Program; Obesity; Point of Sale Data; Consumer/Household Economics; Food Consumption/Nutrition/Food Safety; Public Economics; D12; I18; I38 Q18;

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    1. Philip M. Gleason & Carol W. Suitor, 2003. "Eating at School: How the National School Lunch Program Affects Children's Diets," American Journal of Agricultural Economics, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association, vol. 85(4), pages 1047-1061.
    2. Anne Gordon & Mary Kay Fox, 2007. "School Nutrition Dietary Assessment Study-III: Summary of Findings," Mathematica Policy Research Reports 5673, Mathematica Policy Research.
    3. Gundersen, Craig & Kreider, Brent & Pepper, John V., 2011. "The Impact of the National School Lunch Program on Child Health: A Nonparametric Bounds Analysis," Staff General Research Papers 32720, Iowa State University, Department of Economics.
    4. Benjamin L. Campbell & Rodolfo M. Nayga & John L. Park & Andres Silva, 2011. "Does the National School Lunch Program Improve Children's Dietary Outcomes?," American Journal of Agricultural Economics, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association, vol. 93(4), pages 1099-1130.
    5. Millimet, Daniel L. & Tchernis, Rusty & Husain, Muna, 2008. "School Nutrition Programs and the Incidence of Childhood Obesity," IZA Discussion Papers 3664, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    6. Mary Kay Fox & Elizabeth Condon, 2012. "School Nutrition Dietary Assessment Study-IV: Summary of Findings," Mathematica Policy Research Reports 7605, Mathematica Policy Research.
    7. Ralston, Katherine L. & Newman, Constance & Clauson, Annette L. & Guthrie, Joanne F. & Buzby, Jean C., 2008. "The National School Lunch Program: Background, Trends, and Issues," Economic Research Report 56464, United States Department of Agriculture, Economic Research Service.
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