Public Health Nutrition

Special Groups

Middle-school students’ school lunch consumption does not meet the new Institute of Medicine's National School Lunch Program recommendations

Karen W Cullena1 c1, Kathleen B Watsona1 and Jayna M Davea1

a1 Department of Pediatrics, USDA/ARS Children's Nutrition Research Center, Baylor College of Medicine, 1100 Bates Street, Houston, TX 77030-2600, USA


Objective To compare the school lunch consumption of Texas middle-school students with the 2009 Institute of Medicine's (IOM) school meal report recommendations. These new lunch menu patterns increase fruit to one serving and vegetables to two servings, with 50 % wholegrain food.

Design Lunch food records were collected from middle-school students from four schools in south-east Texas in the spring of 2008, and entered into the Nutrition Data System for Research software. Average intake was calculated for those consuming meals according to the National School Lunch Program (NSLP; n 5414) and for those consuming lunch from other sources (n 239). The percentage of students selecting each food group was calculated.

Setting Middle schools in south-east Texas.

Subjects Middle-school students in south-east Texas.

Results Students consuming NSLP meals reported consuming almost serving of fruit, serving of vegetables, 8 oz of milk and serving of whole grains at lunch. Non-NSLP consumers reported almost no intake of fruit, vegetables or milk, and consumed serving of whole grains at lunch. Among NSLP consumers, about 40 % selected and consumed a fruit serving. About two-thirds of students selected a vegetable, consuming about 67 %. Less than 4 % selected a dark green or orange vegetable.

Conclusions Students’ lunch intake did not meet the new IOM recommendations. Few students selected dark green or orange vegetables, and only 40 % selected fruit. Whole grains consumption was low. Interventions with all stakeholders will be necessary to improve students’ food and beverage selections overall when school meal patterns are revised.

(Received July 16 2010)

(Accepted February 14 2011)

(Online publication April 19 2011)


c1 Corresponding author: Email