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

July 2022

Reducing Student Exposure to Digital Food and Beverage Marketing

Digital marketing of unhealthy foods and beverages to children and adolescents is pervasive and undermines healthy eating. During the COVID-19 pandemic, students’ time spent online for both recreation and school using educational technology doubled from 3.8 to 7.7 hours per day for 12- to13-year-olds, and racial, ethnic, and socioeconomic disparities widened with children of color More

July 2022

Longitudinal Study of Low-Income Families with Young Children: Assessing California Communities’ Experiences with Safety Net Supports Survey (ACCESS)

This is a unique opportunity to assess the longitudinal impact of COVID-19 related relief and recovery policies and existing safety net supports among economically disadvantaged California families raising young children. The goals of this study are to 1) characterize participant’s awareness and understanding of COVID-19 related relief supports such as Pandemic EBT, free school meals, More

July 2022

Evaluation of Universal Free School Meals

The purpose of this study is to compare the impact of continuing Universal Free School Meals (UFSM) in Maine and California with the impact of de-implementing UFSM in control states during the 2022-23 school year. Specific aims are to examine: (1) school meal participation rates using administrative claims data from 20 states; and (2) household More

January 2022

Recognizing and Supporting School Meal Programs as a Critical Nutrition Safety Net: Lessons from COVID-19

School closures due to the COVID-19 pandemic significantly disrupted children’s access to school meals in 2020 and 2021. School food service authorities (SFAs), which are responsible for planning, sourcing, preparing, and serving school meals, had to rapidly convert their usual on-site meal service operations to more flexible and mobile strategies to distribute meals to students More