From Cafeteria to Community: Amending the National School Lunch Act to Promote Healthy Eating in Children

Kathryn Bunda (Lead / Corresponding author), Kimberly More, Abigail Boyd, Scott Le, Chinwendu Ozoh, Ryan E. Ditchfield

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Executive Summary: Childhood obesity is a serious health problem in the United States that affects millions of children and adolescents. Obese children are more prone to chronic illnesses, and these risks persist into adulthood. The Richard B. Russell National School Lunch Act (42 U.S.C. 1751 et seq.) sought to promote better nutrition among children, especially those who may otherwise not have access to healthy meals, by providing lunches that meet defined nutritional standards. Despite this effort, obesity rates continue to rise and there is little evidence favoring the effectiveness of the National School Lunch Act in reducing obesity incidence among children. Recently, policymakers proposed expanding nutrition education efforts to the classroom to address the current limitations of the National School Lunch Act (i.e., H.R.5892 and S.3293). However, education efforts alone are insufficient to foster long- lasting healthy eating patterns among children. Therefore, we propose that Congress amend the National School Lunch Act to include three evidence-based approaches: a 50-hour education program (H.R.5892), equitable partnerships between schools, local businesses and nonprofit organizations (S.3293), and a community engagement program designed to impact dietary behavior beyond the classroom.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Science Policy & Governance
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 12 Oct 2020


  • health equity
  • health policy
  • health advocacy
  • COVID-19
  • healthcare reform
  • HHS


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