Middle School Students’ Perceptions of the Lunchroom: Implications for Future Interventions

Natoshia Askelson, Grace Ryan, Patrick Brady, Cristian L. Meier, Patti Delger, Carrie Scheidel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The National School Lunch Program provides nutritious and inexpensive lunches, but low participation and food waste are challenges in many schools. Interventions aim to improve participation in the program, but little is known about how students’ perceptions affect their participation. This study explored how middle school students in a rural state perceive school food service staff, food served, and lunchroom atmosphere. An online survey was administered to middle school students at six schools participating in a larger lunchroom intervention. Mean perception scores were calculated for all measures. Multilevel logistic regression was used to examine the relationship between perceptions and consumption. Overall perceptions of staff, food, and atmosphere were positive, and students classified as school lunch eaters had more positive perceptions in all three areas than noneaters. Interventions to increase participation in school lunch programs and promote consumption of healthy food items should address multiple factors that contribute to school lunch participation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)233-240
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of School Nursing
Issue number3
StateAccepted/In press - 2020
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The author(s) declared the following potential conflicts of interest with respect to the research, authorship, and/or publication of this article: This project has been funded at least in part with Federal funds from the U.S. Department of Agriculture. This project was supported by 2015 Team Nutrition Training Grant (CFDA 10.574).

Publisher Copyright:
© The Author(s) 2020.


  • adolescent health
  • healthy eating
  • school nurse
  • school-based services


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