How School Food Programs Impact Students’ Diets

How School Food Programs Impact Students’ Diets

Every day more than 30 million children get a free or reduced-price lunch at school through the National School Lunch Program (NSLP); and many of those students also rely on the program to get a healthy breakfast before school.

Childhood nutrition has become a growing concern in this country, and the U.S. Government spends more than $10 Billion reimbursing schools participating in the programs. But are those programs truly helping improve the lives of the children they serve?

That is the focus of the paper, “Do School Food Programs Improve Child Dietary Quality?”, by Travis Smith of the University of Georgia. The paper was selected to appear in the American Journal of Agricultural Economics.

“We looked at the quality of food in students of different ages,” Smith said. “This data compares all students based on food quality and schools have to meet certain standards to get reimbursed.”

Who is not benefiting from getting meals at school, and how does what children eat at home impact the effectiveness of these multi-billion dollar programs?

ABOUT AAEA: Established in 1910, the Agricultural & Applied Economics Association (AAEA) is the leading professional association for agricultural and applied economists, with 2,500 members in more than 20 countries. Members of the AAEA work in academic or government institutions as well as in industry and not-for-profit organizations, and engage in a variety of research, teaching, and outreach activities in the areas of agriculture, the environment, food, health, and international development. The AAEA publishes two journals, the American Journal of Agricultural Economics and Applied Economic Perspectives & Policy, as well as the online magazine Choices. To learn more, visit


Cynthia Tait

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.