Dietary Intake of Children Participating in the USDA Summer Food Service Program

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 s. The SFSP as offered to children met the USDA lunch standards but interventions are needed to improve student food selection and consumption.

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