Impact of the 2010 US Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act on School Breakfast and Lunch Participation Rates Between 2008 and 2015

Am J Public Health. 2018 Jan;108(1):84-86. doi: 10.2105/AJPH.2017.304102. Epub 2017 Nov 21.


Objectives: To evaluate National School Lunch Program (NSLP) and School Breakfast Program (SBP) participation over a 7-year period before and after the implementation of the 2010 Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act (HHFKA), which required healthier school lunch options beginning in school year (SY) 2012-2013 and healthier school breakfast options beginning in SY2013-2014.

Methods: Data were gathered from low-income, high-minority public schools in 4 New Jersey cities. We conducted longitudinal analyses of annual average daily participation (ADP) in school meals among enrolled students overall and among those eligible for free or reduced-price meals. We used linear mixed models to compare NSLP and SBP participation rates from SY2008-2009 to SY2014-2015.

Results: NSLP participation rates among students overall differed little across years (from 70% to 72%). SBP rates among enrolled students were stable from the beginning of the study period to SY2013-2014 and then increased from 52% to 59%. Among students eligible for free or reduced-price meals, the ADP was lowest in SY2012-2013 (when the HHFKA was implemented) before rebounding.

Conclusions: The HHFKA did not have a negative impact on school meal participation over time. Public Health Implications. The HHFKA-strengthened nutrition standards have not affected school meal participation rates. With time, students are likely to accept healthier options.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Breakfast
  • Child
  • Female
  • Food Assistance / standards*
  • Food Services / standards*
  • Food Services / statistics & numerical data*
  • Humans
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Lunch
  • Male
  • Minority Groups / statistics & numerical data
  • New Jersey
  • Poverty / statistics & numerical data
  • Schools / standards*
  • Schools / statistics & numerical data*