Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Science in Food and Nutritional Science


Food Science, Technology, Nutrition and Dietetics

First Advisor

Henry A. Dymsza


The purpose of the study was to determine the differences, if any, between the nutritive value and acceptability of the Cold and Hot Type A School Lunches. The study involved all sixth-grade children in both public and non-public schools in the city of Central Falls, Rhode Island-- a high population density, low-income area. A total of 1,965 meals consumed by 495 children (266 boys and 229 girls) were calculated for nutrient content. During Phase I, data were collected for a five-day period on the participation, waste, and nutritive value of a Cold Type A School Lunch available in public schools. This was compared with values for lunches eaten-at-home or brought-from-home by public and non-public school children. Since a hot lunch became available during the next school year, Phase II determined participation, waste, and nutritive value of the Hot Type A School Lunch. Observations were made for two five-day periods, and compared with data obtained during Phase I. Nutrient contents of the lunches and intakes of the children were determined by a computer program based on USDA Handbook No. 8 (84).

During the study, an average of 39 percent of the sixth-grade public school students obtained a Cold School Lunch which increased to 64 percent when the Hot School Lunch became available. None of the hot or cold school lunches contained the recommended goal of one-third of the RDA (88) for all nutrients, for boys and girls 11 to 14 years old.

Nutrient losses from plate waste were generally greater from the Cold School Lunch than from the Hot School Lunch. The average nutrient intake from the Hot School Lunch did not meet the goal of one- third of the RDA (88) but met one-fourth of the RDA (88) for boys and girls, for all nutrients except iron. The average nutrient intake from the Cold School Lunch was below the goal of supplying one- third of the RDA (88) for all nutrients. The average nutrient intake from Cold School Lunches was below one-fourth of the RDA (88) for energy, iron, vitamin A, and niacin for both sexes and for thiamin for girls.

Lunches eaten at home provided more calories, protein, fat, iron, vitamin A, and niacin than the Cold School Lunches. The intake of calcium for the girls and of ascorbic acid for the boys were higher in the Cold School Lunch. When compared with lunches brought from home, the boys who obtained the Cold School Lunches had higher intakes of calcium, vitamin A, riboflavin, and ascorbic acid. The girls choosing the Cold School Lunch also had higher intakes of calcium and ascorbic acid but lower intakes of calories, protein, fat, iron, thiamin, and niacin, than the girls who brought their lunches from home.

In general, the results of this study showed that for sixth-grade school children, Hot School Lunches were more nutritious than Cold School Lunches in terms of calories, protein, iron, vitamin A, thiamin, and niacin. Furthermore, almost twice as many hot school lunches were served as compared to cold school lunches. This indicates that initiation of the Hot School Lunch was an important factor in increasing student participation in the School Lunch Program.



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