Middle school student perceptions of school lunch following revised federal school meal guidelines
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Since the revisions to the school meal guidelines in 2012, few studies have assessed student perceptions about school lunch. During the 2012-2013 school year, 1,867 middle school students (grades 6th, 7th, and 8th) in the Houston, Texas area completed questionnaires regarding various aspects of school lunch. The questionnaires examined if perceptions of school lunch differed based on gender, grade level, income, or frequency of eating school lunch. Analysis of variance was used in the analyses. Sixth graders (more than any other grade) reported greater satisfaction for meal perceptions (including taste, presentation, and variety) (P < .001), while students from low-income schools reported less satisfaction in this category (P< .001). Sixth graders, and boys, were significantly more likely to report selecting and consuming fruits, vegetables, and whole grains (P < .001, P < .05 respectively). Finally, students from low-income schools, and students who consumed school lunch more frequently were more satisfied with staff attentiveness (P < .001, P < .001 respectively). The most popular reason for eating school lunch was "I am hungry". These results demonstrate the need for further investigation and intervention in order to accommodate the varying student perceptions of school lunch.
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