Effects of nutrition education on students' selections during school lunch
A consensus of research reveals that Type A school lunches are not meeting 1/3 of the Recommended Dietary Allowances (RDA) for major nutrients, and are supplying excessive amounts of fat and saturated fat. Often school lunches are in competition with vending and commercial foods. Accordingly, school foodservice directors feel that they must serve the type of foods that attract enough participation from students to prevent the program from operating at a loss. Nutrition education may influence students' selections of school lunch menu items. The purpose of this study was to examine the effects of nutrition education on 7th and 8th grade students' selections of school lunch menu items. As a pre-test, every fourth student from Type A lunch lines in the first lunch period at a selected middle school (grades 7 and 8) was observed on the basis of menu selections. Students included both those selecting type A lunch lines and ale carte items. Students' selections were tallied by Texas Woman's University graduate students and analyzed using Nutritionist IV software. The selections were analyzed for the following nutrients: calories, fat, fiber, iron, vitamin A, vitamin C, and calcium. Over a four week period, nutrition education was administered to all students at this middle school. The nutrition education included: a Food Pyramid Guide video, poster, and pamphlet, a basic nutrition video, a pamphlet on "5-A-Day to Better Health," and a behavior-oriented worksheet. Following the intervention, selections of a random sample of students were again tallied and analyzed. The effects of nutrition education were determined by using a multivariate t-test with BMPD statistical software. Results revealed no significant differences between pre-test and post-test nutrient values indicating that nutrition education did not significantly influence student menu choices.