In the United States, many children who come from low-income backgrounds and experience food insecurity do not take and eat school lunch, despite it being a nutritious meal. Teachers could play a role in encouraging students’ consumption of school lunch; however, teachers in America are traditionally uninvolved in the lunch period. The purpose of this research was to understand the resources kindergarten through twelfth grade (K-12) teachers need to encourage students to take and eat school lunch. Two data collection workshops and semi-structured follow-up interviews were conducted with K-12 teachers. The workshops and interviews were recorded, transcribed, and analyzed for salient themes. Ten teachers participated in the workshops and six teachers participated in the follow-up interviews. In general, teachers believe school meals are essential for students’ focus and behavior in the classroom. However, to encourage students to take and eat school lunch, teachers need support and resources. From the workshops and interviews, three themes emerged: (1) improvements in the food quality; (2) school community support; and (3) professional development. The data suggests professional development is the greatest resource teachers need, as professional development can enhance teachers’ motivation to advocate for better food quality and engage school community support. Greater teacher involvement in school lunch could lay the groundwork for future healthier generations.
The full research report is available here at Nutrients.