Lunches served by schools participating in the National School Lunch program contain less fat and saturated fat than meals students bring from home, aby Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University finds, but they also contain less iron.
Researchers from the university’s family-nutrition program observed meals in three rural Virginia elementary schools over a five-day period. Energy, carbohydrates, fat, saturated fat, sugar, vitamin C, and iron were significantly higher for packed lunches compared with school lunches, whereas protein, sodium, fiber, vitamin A, and calcium were significantly lower for packed lunches compared with school lunches, according to a news release.
One caveat: Researchers observed what was on students’ plates—not what they actually consumed.
A version of this article appeared in the December 03, 2014 edition of Education Week as Student Nutrition