Using Social Media to Promote School Nutrition Programs During the COVID-19 Pandemic

J Sch Health. 2022 May;92(5):485-492. doi: 10.1111/josh.13151. Epub 2022 Mar 2.


Background: Millions of school-aged children receive free or reduced-price lunches through the United States Department of Agriculture's (USDA) National School Lunch Program; that service was disrupted when public schools closed at the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic. Prior to the pandemic, this program received little attention on school districts' social media accounts.

Methods: We collected Twitter data from 70 Ohio public school districts to construct a measure of attention paid toward school nutrition programs from 2008 to 2021. We also collected district-level data to analyze the relationship between district characteristics and mentions of school nutrition programs.

Results: We show that attention to school nutrition programs significantly increased during the pandemic. School districts with a greater student population density and greater geographic area were more likely to tweet about these programs.

Conclusions: School districts can, and should, use social media to inform residents about school nutrition programs and food security programs more generally. Social media provides a low-cost way to lessen the administrative burden for families trying to access these programs.

Keywords: health communication; health policy; nutrition and diet.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • COVID-19* / epidemiology
  • COVID-19* / prevention & control
  • Child
  • Food Services*
  • Humans
  • Nutrition Policy
  • Pandemics
  • Schools
  • Social Media*
  • United States / epidemiology