Parental perceptions of school meal programs in Guilford County, NC

UNCG Author/Contributor (non-UNCG co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
Sara Swindell Himmelrich (Creator)
The University of North Carolina at Greensboro (UNCG )
Web Site:
Lauren Haldeman

Abstract: The purpose of this study was to assess parental perceptions of school meal programs (SMP) and the extent to which school meal participation helps meet monthly household food needs. Focus groups and individual interviews using a semi structured question guide were conducted with stakeholders (n=2) and parents (n=38) of elementary school aged children in 9 selected Title 1 schools. Content analysis of transcribed audio tapes was conducted to identify themes around perceptions of school breakfast (SBP) and lunch programs (SLP) and strategies for meeting monthly food needs. Participants were primarily low income, married African American women. Most children were enrolled in the school breakfast program (89.5%) and the school lunch program (92.1%) with half receiving the meals for free. Qualitative findings revealed that parents valued breakfast and the SBP; however they felt that the quality of food offered was poor which was underscored by the statement that they [schools] are “trying to turn school into a fast food restaurant”. Despite concerns of food quality and other program administration barriers such as lack of sufficient time to eat, parents agreed that school meal participation helps meet their monthly household food needs. SMP are used as a strategy for meeting household food needs. Parents questioned the healthfulness of food provided, which may support the need for increased education for parents regarding the nutritional quality of school menu options. Schools may also benefit from conducting evaluations of SMP administration to ensure that they are readily available to those most in need. Project funded by the Economic Research Service of the U.S.D.A under Cooperative Agreement no. 58-5000-8-0124.

Additional Information

Language: English
Date: 2011
Breakfast, Parental Perceptions, School Meals, USDA
School children $x Food $z North Carolina $z Guilford County
School breakfast programs $x Evaluation
Parents $x Attitudes

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