Study Reveals Student’s View of School Lunch

Annika Haakonsen ’20
EE Contributor

Ever since First Lady Michelle Obama’s healthy school-lunch initiatives were set into motion back in the early 2010s, school lunch menus across the country have been adjusted to provide better meal choices for their students.

The initiatives were put in place to battle childhood obesity and promote healthier eating habits. However, it is a popular belief among students that, despite the initiative’s good intentions, the quality of the food provided by school cafeterias has decreased, along with the variety of options. Due to these changes, many speculate that students no longer enjoy eating school lunches.

Students in the Trumbull High School commons and senior lounge were surveyed and research conducted through an in-school study attempting to address these questions: Are high schoolers more or less inclined to eat lunches provided by the school? And, why is that inclination?

The ultimate finding of my study was that a majority of THS students do indeed eat school lunches. Additionally, of those students, a majority tend to agree that school lunches are not of overall good quality. This challenged the general speculations that had provided a base for the study. The research also found that despite not liking the school lunches, students saw the school lunch options as being relatively healthy. So, what did this contradiction mean, and why was this additional finding significant?

Upon further consideration, this may be largely due to an increase in healthy school-lunch initiatives.
According to findings gathered from large-scale professional studies, many nation-wide healthy lunch initiatives have the ability to influence what a student believes constitutes a “good” versus a “healthy” lunch. In other words, a student may view a healthier lunch as one of lower quality.

If anything, the findings illustrated that despite whether a student views the offered options as “healthy,” they may not be inclined to like the options provided. Why does this matter? These lunches may be conditioning students to associate healthier foods with a worse level of satisfaction, therefore deterring students from finding healthier meals more enjoyable. To avoid this from progressing, we must consider how to instill better meal habits in students through the introduction of more enjoyable menu options.

One Response to Study Reveals Student’s View of School Lunch

  1. amy pytel says:

    very nice work! really insightful.

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