Schools are an important setting for addressing childhood obesity. A substantial portion of school-aged children’s daily food and caloric intake occurs within the school and after-school environment. About 30 million school-aged children consume school lunches every day, and almost 75% (21.8 million) of these children receive free or reduced-price lunches. Research in this area aims to understand how school and after-school food policies and environments can help improve the nutritional quality of the school meal environment, promote healthy weight status, and reduce nutritional disparities.
Research & Publications See all
Assessing participation in and implementation of summer electronic-benefits-transfer and non-congregate-meal programs in rural areas
Summer EBT and non-congregate meals are summer meal options that have known associations with reducing food hardship and barriers to food access. But take-up can vary across states, which creates disparities among marginalized populations. The study aims to analyze the coverage, take-up, and implementation decisions made around Summer EBT and non-congregate meals. The research team More
Examining the economic value of free school meals to inform future policy decisions on expansion of free school meals in the U.S.
Growing evidence suggests free school meal policies improve student health outcomes and nutrition equity. A key barrier to passage of these policies is concerns regarding potential costs, thus, a broader value for money evaluation is essential to inform policy decisions. This study aims to compare ‘intervention’ states with free school meal policies (i.e., universal free More
Developing and evaluating a marketing campaign to increase school-meal participation to improve children’s dietary quality and reduce food insecurity
Increasing participation in school meals could reduce food insecurity and improve dietary quality, especially for low-income children, but low-cost, scalable strategies for increasing participation in school meals have not yet been identified or evaluated. This study will design and rigorously evaluate a marketing campaign to encourage participation in school meals. The study has three aims: More
Challenges and Opportunities for Equity in US School Meal Programs: A Scoping Review of Qualitative Literature Regarding the COVID-19 Emergency
The emergency school meals program provided free meals to children in the United States during COVID-19-related school closures. This scoping review aims to synthesize the existing qualitative empirical evidence published between March 2020 and January 2023 on the operations and utilization of emergency school meal programs during the pandemic. Qualitative, US-based peer-reviewed literature was collected More