Is Scratch-Cooking a Cost-Effective Way to Prepare Healthy School Meals with US Department of Agriculture Foods?


Harvey Kayman, Patricia Crawford, Wendi Gosliner


children, cooking, health, Meals, schools, U.S. Department of Agriculture


Preventing Chronic Disease

Year Published:


Policy Summary

This paper looked at switching to cooking from scratch at schools to increase the quality and appeal of school meals. It analyzed cost and nutrient content of switching to scratch-cooking and found that the entrees with higher scratch-cooking scores had significantly lower food costs and higher labor costs, but in general there was no significant difference between scratch-cooked entrees and entrees with no scratch-cooking. The findings from this study suggest that policy supported switching to scratch-cooking can be a cost effective way to offer a larger variety of healthy school lunches.

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