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Parent Perceptions of School Meals Influence Student Participation in School Meal Programs

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04/17/2024
elsevier.com

Three groups of parental perceptions were identified: (1) positive perceptions (e.g., liking school meals and thinking they are tasty and healthy), (2) perceived benefits to families (e.g., school meals save families money, time, and stress), and (3) negative perceptions (e.g., concerns about the amount of sugar in school meals and stigma associated with low family income or embarrassment). More positive parental perceptions about school meals and their benefits to families were associated with greater student meal participation. In contrast, more negative parental perceptions were associated with reduced student participation in school meals.

Dr. Zuercher commented, "Parent perceptions of school meals appear to influence student participation in school meal programs. Working to ensure parents are familiar with the healthfulness and quality of school meals and the efforts schools are making to provide high-quality, appealing meals may be critical for increasing school meal participation rates.”

Notes for editors

The article is “Parent Perceptions of School Meals Influence Student Participation in School Meal Programs,” by Monica D. Zuercher, PhD, MS; Juliana F.W. Cohen, ScD, ScM; Christina A. Hecht, PhD; Kenneth Hecht, LLB; Dania Orta Aleman, PhD, MPH; Anisha Patel, MD, MSPH, MSHS; Deborah A. Olarte, PhD, RDN; Leah E. Chapman, PhD, MPH; Margaret Read, MA; Marlene B. Schwartz, PhD; Lorrene D. Ritchie, PhD, RDN; and Wendi Gosliner, DrPH, MPH (https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jneb.2024.01.003(opens in new tab/window)). It appears in the Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior, Volume 56, Issue 4 (April 2024), published by Elsevier.

The article is openly available at https://www.jneb.org/article/S1499-4046(24)00004-6/fulltext(opens in new tab/window).

This research was funded by California General Fund SB 170. The authors would like to thank the parents who participated in the study and the Nutrition Services Division of the California Department of Education, Galloway Research Service, Punam Ohri-Vachaspati, and Lindsey Turner for providing expertise and guidance for this study. The authors received permission from those named in the acknowledgments.

Full text of the article is also available to credentialed journalists upon request; contact Eileen Leahy at +1 732 406 1313 or [email protected](opens in new tab/window) to obtain a copy or additional information. To schedule an interview with the author(s), please contact Monica D. Zuercher, PhD, MS, Nutrition Policy Institute, Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources, University of California, at [email protected](opens in new tab/window).

An audio podcast featuring an interview with Monica D. Zuercher, PhD, MS; and other information for journalists are available at www.jneb.org/content/media. Excerpts from the podcast may be reproduced by the media with permission from Eileen Leahy.

About the Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior (JNEB)

The Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior (JNEB), the official journal of the Society for Nutrition Education and Behavior (SNEB), is a refereed, scientific periodical that serves as a resource for all professionals with an interest in nutrition education and dietary/physical activity behaviors. The purpose of JNEB is to document and disseminate original research, emerging issues, and practices relevant to nutrition education and behavior worldwide and to promote healthy, sustainable food choices. It supports the Society's efforts to disseminate innovative nutrition education strategies, and communicate information on food, nutrition, and health issues to students, professionals, policymakers, targeted audiences, and the public.

The Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior features articles that provide new insights and useful findings related to nutrition education research, practice, and policy. The content areas of JNEB reflect the diverse interests of health, nutrition, education, Cooperative Extension, and other professionals working in areas related to nutrition education and behavior. As the Society's official journal, JNEB also includes occasional policy statements, issue perspectives, and member communications. www.jneb.org(opens in new tab/window)

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Schedule29 May 2024