A Case Study of Middle School Food Policy and Persisting Barriers to Healthful Eating


Eddy Jara, Emily Ozer, Ingrid Seyer-Ochi


adolescent health, food policy, nieghborhood, school, school food, school meal quality


Ecology of Food and Nutrition

Year Published:


Policy Summary

The authors explored the interaction between the school and neighborhood food environment, plus the social factors that influenced middle school students’ routine eating patterns. Through qualitiative interviews researchers learned that although the competitive foods ban was in place at a school, the school meals offered were so distasteful and unappealing that students rarely at them (less than 10% reguraly ate school lunch); instead, they often bought “hot chips” from nearby corner stores. Additionally, social pressures influenced students to make unhealthy choices because all of their peers (and in some cases parents) around them were making unhealthy choices. These findings are important for policy development because competitive food ban policies need to consider the wider school food environment and quality of meals served at the school, when implementing competitive food bans because unintended, unhealthy consequences may result for the students. Additional funding streams are recognizing the importance of the wider food environment and quality of school meals by providing funds for adding salad bars to meals and working to convert corner stores into offering more healthy options.