The University of Iowa Public Policy Center and University of Iowa College of Public Health conducted a study to determine Iowa parents' knowledge and perceptions of the school lunch program and the new school meal patterns as defined by the Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010.  Iowa parents of school-aged children were surveyed online to assess attitudes, beliefs and practices in regards to the school lunch program at their child's school.  Questions were specifically designed to guage parents' opinions on the federal school lunch guidelines implemented in August 2012.

The survey and subsequent report were prepared for the Iowa Department of Education by Natoshia Askelson, MPH, PhD, Elizabeth Golembiewski, BA and Daniel Elchert, BA.  While almost half of the parents surveyed agree that school lunches are "healthy," they also listed several concerns, including smaller/inadequate portions, off-site/pre-packaged meal preparation, poor food taste and quality, and waste of undesirable food items.

Iowa is one of 20 states to be awarded a 2012 Team Nutrition Grant from the US Department of Agriculture. The goal of the grants is to support schools as they strive to serve healthy food, provide nutrition education, and create an environment focused on healthy eating and physical activity. The Public Policy Center is conducting formative research to better understand parents’ and adolescents’ knowledge and attitudes about school meals and the recent school meal pattern changes. The results of an online parent survey and intercept interviews will be used to inform the design of a toolkit for school districts. The Changes in School Meals toolkit will be used by school districts to communicate with parents and adolescents about the new school meal patterns, update them on the school wellness policy, mobilize them to maximize their role modeling potential, and provide resources to assist in the development of healthy habits at home.

Download a brief of the report here

Download the full report here