Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)

Legacy Department

Food, Nutrition, and Culinary Science

Committee Chair/Advisor

Haley-Zitlin, Vivian

Committee Member

Granberg , Ellen

Committee Member

Condrasky , Margaret


The purpose of this study was to examine participants in a National School Lunch Program (NSLP), and the effect of gender and/or participation in the NSLP on selection of high saturated fat content entrée items by the students. Nutrition information provided to parents often does not include a profile of the fats offered in school lunch items. This was true of this study's schools. However, new NSLP guidelines focus upon saturated and trans fat content in school lunches. The total kcal limit is less than 30% total fat, and saturated fat is less than or equal to 10% total kcal, along with 0gms/serving trans fat. So, there is a need to monitor the fat profile of foods offered to ensure schools meet the new guidelines. As a part of a large plate waste study, all entrée items served in February 2013 in 11 elementary schools were analyzed for SFAs, MUFAs, PUFAs, trans fat, and total fat and total kcal using 'best fit' selection criteria with Nutritionist Pro TM nutritional analysis software based upon matching of nutrient content (Kcal, CHO, Protein, Total fat, and Sodium) from the school district and recipes of actual entrée items served. In an offer-based school lunch service, three entrée items/day were served with a constant of vegetarian choice (consisting of cheese stick, yogurt, and cracker product) each day. Student numbers were 5,375 total; with a total of 79,359 purchases with a total of 41,738 purchases were made by males and 37,621 by females. Total 'paid', 'free' and 'reduced' meal selections were 24,654; 50,365; and 4,340, respectively. Point of Sale data collected during the same time period coupled with lunch dietary analysis data is being used to determine the effect of gender and/or participation in the free and reduced school lunch program on the selection of high saturated fat content entrée items by elementary school aged students. Results: There was no significant difference seen with nutrients with the interaction of gender and participation status. There was no significant difference in gender except for males with a significant difference in monounsaturated fat (p<.0001). There were significant differences in total calories (p=0.0052), total fat (p=0.0011), saturated fat free (p=0.0028), and polyunsaturated fat (p=0.0015) with paid status. Significant differences in monounsaturated fat (p =0.0007) and trans fat (p=0.0015) were seen with free status. Chi-square analysis assessed the association between gender or participation status and entrée selection and detected significant differences with gender, and with status (participation in NSLP). Conclusion: The means for saturated fat for gender and participation status in this study meet the guidelines of less than or equal to 10 % of total calories from saturated fat from the school lunch entrée. Male students preferred BBQ and Pizza based entrées more than females. Paid status preferred more chicken entrées and pizza entrées. Free status preferred teriyaki beef dippers and hamburger entrées. Further research needs to be performed on entrée selection and consumption to gather more data on the intake of saturated fat for students participating in the free and reduced NSLP and how much saturated fat is being consumed in lunch time meals.

Included in

Food Science Commons



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