Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Dietetics Administration (MDA)


Nutrition, Dietetics, and Food Sciences

Committee Chair(s)

Noreen B. Schvaneveldt


Noreen B. Schvaneveldt


Tammy Vitale


Janet Anderson


Von Mendenhall


The survey investigated factors that influenced high school student participation in the National School Lunch Program. The National School Lunch program provides nutritionally balanced meals based on the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, the Recommended Dietary Allowances, and the Food Guide Pyramid. This nutrition program contributes significantly to the nutrient needs of adolescents, however, participation rates are low and students do not receive the health benefits associated with this nutrition program when they do not participate.

The survey was conducted in two high schools, both with grades sophomore through senior. The two high schools had distinct differences in location, cafeteria design and seating arrangement, number of lunch periods, and proximity to additional eating establishments. The survey asked the high school students to rate their school lunch program from "Very Good" to "Poor" in the areas of taste, appearance, temperature and amount of the food, and the courtesy of the foodservice staff. The survey also asked students to rate the variety and selection offered in the school, the time spent waiting in line, and the frequency which the student participated in the school lunch program. Questions regarding the current grade in school, the type of food typically selected, and any comments the students chose to add were also on the survey.

Students with the newer cafeteria design were more likely to rate the food appearance as very good compared to students with an older cafeteria design. The temperature of the food, and the variety and selection were viewed more positively by the school with the more attractive cafeteria design than the school with the older cafeteria. Taste, frequency of participation, amount of food, time spent waiting in line, and the courtesy of the foodservice staff were rated similarly by both schools. The survey showed that the school lunchroom environment can influence student participation.