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Multi-pronged intervention to increase secondary student participation in school lunch: Design and rationale.

  • Author(s): Machado, Stephanie;
  • Ritchie, Lorrene;
  • Thompson, Hannah;
  • Reed, Annie;
  • Castro, Ana Ibarra;
  • Neelon, Marisa;
  • Madsen, Kristine
  • et al.
Abstract

Background

In the United States, the National School Lunch Program (NSLP) is the healthiest lunch option for students, yet participation is suboptimal and fruit and vegetable waste remains high. Improving school meal convenience, engaging teachers in the school-lunch program, and enhancing the cafeteria environment are promising strategies to improve participation and dietary intake, yet little evidence is available on their impact.

Methods/design

The Multi-Pronged Intervention to Increase Secondary Student Participation in School Lunch (MPI) is a 3-year quasi-experimental study in a large urban school district in California. A total of 24 middle and high schools participated in the study: half received the intervention and half served as controls. The intervention consisted of additional school lunch points of sale (vending machines and mobile carts), a school meal outreach program for teachers, and cafeteria redesigns. School meal participation, student-reported fruit and vegetable consumption, and school lunch plate waste were assessed at baseline and in years 1 and 2 of the intervention. Change in meal participation and fruit and vegetable consumption were compared between intervention and control arms to determine the impact of the intervention on school meal participation and dietary intake.

Discussion

This study is positioned to provide evidence on the feasibility and efficacy of a multi-level intervention to increase school meal participation and consumption of fruits and vegetables.

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