Elementary school participation in the United States Department of Agriculture's Team Nutrition program is associated with more healthful school lunches

J Nutr Educ Behav. 2013 Nov-Dec;45(6):733-8. doi: 10.1016/j.jneb.2012.12.006. Epub 2013 Mar 7.


Objective: To assess school-level characteristics associated with Team Nutrition (TN) program participation, and compare the availability of food items in school lunches in participating vs nonparticipating schools.

Methods: Cross-sectional study with a nationally representative sample of 2,489 elementary schools in the United States. A mail-back survey was used to collect school administrator-reported annual data on availability of selected healthful and unhealthful lunch items between 2006-2007 and 2009-2010. Multivariate regression analyses was used to predict the availability of food items in school lunches based on TN participation.

Results: Team Nutrition participation was higher among schools in the south, in rural areas, and in states with stronger nutrition policies. Program participation was higher in schools with mostly low-income students and where a dietitian was on staff. Participating schools were more likely to offer healthful items and less likely to serve unhealthful items during lunch.

Conclusions and implications: The TN program has the potential to help schools offer healthier school meals.

Keywords: Team Nutrition Program; USDA Food and Nutrition Programs; school food environment.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Health Promotion
  • Humans
  • Logistic Models
  • Lunch*
  • Nutrition Policy*
  • Nutrition Surveys*
  • Schools / statistics & numerical data*
  • United States
  • United States Department of Agriculture