Researchers target teacher perceptions of school meals to increase student school meal participation

Oct 3, 2022

Schools offer a unique environment to increase food security and improve dietary intake among youth. A new study proposes a novel conceptual model to understand teacher's perceptions, behavior modeling, and support of student school lunch participation. A teacher outreach intervention exposed teachers to new school lunch menu items, promoted healthfulness of the school lunch program, and offered teachers educational materials to encourage student participation in the lunch program. Findings include teachers reportedly eating more with students after the intervention, and student agreement that adults at their school encourage them to eat school lunch increased. However, teacher perceptions of school meal healthfulness and taste were unchanged after the intervention. Findings call for further exploration of the determinants of teacher values around school meals to better understand this potential lever for increasing school lunch participation. The study published in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health was conducted by researchers Hannah Thompson and Lorrene Ritchie from the Nutrition Policy Institute, Stephanie Machado and Kristine Madsen from the University of California Berkeley School of Public Health, Renata Cauchon- Robles from San Francisco Unified School District, and Marisa Neelon from the UC Cooperative Extension. The study was funded by the United States Department of Agriculture, National Institute of Food and Agriculture: Technology and Design Innovation to Support 21st Century Nutrition (Grant ID: 2015−68001−23236).

By Katherine Lanca
Author - Graduate Student
By Danielle L. Lee
Editor - Director of Communications & Research Engagement
By Hannah R Thompson
Editor - Asst Research Professor
By Lorrene Ritchie
Editor - Director of the Nutrition Policy Institute and Cooperative Extension Nutrition Specialist