Nutritional Comparison of Packed and School Lunches in Pre-Kindergarten and Kindergarten Children Following the Implementation of the 2012-2013 National School Lunch Program Standards

Alisha R. Farris, Sarah Misyak, Kiyah J. Duffey, George C. Davis, Kathy Hosig, Naama Atzaba-Poria, Mary M. McFerren, Elena L. Serrano

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

37 Scopus citations

Abstract

Objective: Approximately 40% of children bring a packed lunch to school. Little is known about the quality of these lunches. This study examined the nutritional quality of packed lunches compared with school lunches for pre-kindergarten and kindergarten children after the implementation of 2012-2013 National School Lunch Program standards. Methods: The researchers collected observational data for packed and school lunches from 3 schools in rural Virginia for 5 consecutive school days and analyzed them for macro and micro nutrients. Results: Of the 1,314 observations collected; 42.8% were packed lunches (n=562) and 57.2% were school lunches (n=752). Energy, fat, saturated fat, sugar, vitamin C, and iron were significantly higher whereas protein, sodium, fiber, vitamin A, and calcium were significantly lower for packed lunches than school lunches. Conclusions and Implications: Packed lunches were of less nutritional quality than school lunches. Additional research is needed to explore factors related to choosing packed over school lunches.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)621-626
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Nutrition Education and Behavior
Volume46
Issue number6
DOIs
StatePublished - 1 Nov 2014

Keywords

  • Children
  • NSLP
  • Nutrition
  • Packed lunch
  • School lunch

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Nutrition and Dietetics

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