State Farm-to-School Laws Influence the Availability of Fruits and Vegetables in School Lunches at US Public Elementary Schools

RWJF-Detroit-A-0096_RET

Fruit and vegetable availability in U.S. public elementary school lunchrooms was highest in states with laws and schools with farm-to-school programs (FTSP) showing that state laws can impact the nutritional quality of school meals.

The Issue

Meals served in schools play a role in shaping the diets of American children. State laws and school programs can encourage the availability of fruits and vegetables in school meals. This study examines the impact of farm-to-school (FTS) or locally-grown laws and programs on the availability of fruits and vegetables in U.S. public school lunchrooms.

Key Findings

  • About 50 percent of schools reported fruit and vegetable availability in school lunches on most days of the week.

  • Fruit and vegetable availability was highest in states with laws and schools with FTSPs (70.6%).

  • States with laws requiring FTSPs were significantly associated with increased availability of fruits and vegetable in schools.

  • During the study period, both the prevalence of FTSPs and the number of schools located in states with FTS laws tripled.

 

Conclusion

State laws can impact the nutritional quality of school meals utilizing FTSPs. Additional legislation may increase school participation in FTSPs and, therefore, increase fruit and vegetable availability. Further research is needed to evaluate the impact of laws and FTSPs on consumption of fruits and vegetables.

About the Study

A part of Bridging the Gap, this study utilized cross-sectional survey data from 1792 U.S. public elementary schools in the 2006 -2007, 2007-2008, and 2008-2009 school years. The survey was completed by a school administrator and food service personnel.