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Research Project: Childhood Obesity Prevention

Location: Children's Nutrition Research Center

Title: Dietary intake of children participating in the USDA Summer Food Service Program

Author
item Del Rio-rodriguez, Betty - Baylor College Of Medicine
item Cullen, Karen - Children'S Nutrition Research Center (CNRC)

Submitted to: Journal of Nutrition and Health Sciences
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 11/3/2014
Publication Date: 11/6/2014
Citation: Del Rio-Rodriguez, B., Cullen, K.W. 2014. Dietary intake of children participating in the USDA Summer Food Service Program. Journal of Nutrition and Health Sciences. 1(3):302.

Interpretive Summary: The USDA summer food service program (SFSP) provides free lunches to children during the summer. This study examined the foods selected and consumed by 302 participating children who were observed eating lunch in 14 schools during June, 2011. Meals offered to students met the National School Lunch Program (NSLP) meal patterns, but students selected meals that were low in Vitamin C, and did not include the two servings of fruit and/or vegetables offered with the meal. Elementary students consumed about 1/2 serving of fruit and vegetables combined (0.29 cup); intermediate students consumed about 1/3 serving of fruit + vegetables (0.20 cup). Food waste was high (>30%) for fruit, vegetables, and grains. The SFSP as offered to children met the USDA lunch standards but interventions are needed to improve student food selection and consumption.

Technical Abstract: The USDA summer food service program (SFSP) provides free lunches during the summer. This study examined the foods selected and consumed by participating children. Three hundred and two children were observed in 14 schools during a 4-week period in June, 2011; 50% were male; 75% were in elementary school. Dietary intake was observed and recorded; selected and consumed foods were entered into nutrient analysis software to obtain selected and consumed nutrients. Meals offered to students met the National School Lunch Program (NSLP) meal patterns. However, students selected meals that were low in Vitamin C, and did not include the two servings of fruit and/or vegetable allowed in the meal pattern. Elementary students consumed a mean of 63% of energy selected and 0.57 serving of fruit+ vegetables (0.29 cup); intermediate students consumed 73% of energy selected and mean a 0.39 serving of fruit + vegetables (0.20 cup). Food waste was high (>30%) for fruit, vegetables, and grains. The SFSP as offered to children met the USDA lunch standards but interventions are needed to improve student food selection and consumption.