School Food Surveys — the Results are In!

Sierra Harvest was curious about how students and parents perceived the meals that students are served at school. We created two pilot surveys, and distributed them through the Family Resource Center and at two Back to School nights.

What did the Students think?

92 middle school students (grades 5-8) who attended GREAT camp through the Family Resource Center filled out surveys.

Overall, students seem to feel that there is room for improvement in the school meals. Nearly 60% of the students do not purchase lunch because they do not like the taste or perceive the food to be of low quality and nutritional value. The students who do eat the lunch mostly think it tastes “okay” or “terrible.”

What would get more students to eat the school lunch? “Real food” was a theme that appeared throughout the survey question write-ins. There were substantial contingents of students who requested salads, a cleaner eating environment, and more time to eat (30 minutes was the most popular answer).

What about the Parents?

A total of 105 parents filled out surveys, representing 146 students in all nine grades (K-8) at 12 different schools. Overall, parents seem to feel that there is some room for improvement in the school meals. The way parents answered the questions in this survey identified several opportunities that warrant further exploration:

  • An opportunity for marketing and education around federal nutrition standards, specifically around the amount of vegetables currently served by the Central Kitchen.
  • An opportunity to explore extending the lunch hour by at least 10 minutes.
  • An opportunity to explore increasing the meal price by $1.00 for parents paying full price.
  • An opportunity to increase participation in the school meal program (41% of parents surveyed never buy school lunch for their children), especially if some of the highly-rated components were integrated.

Want to Learn More About What Students and Their Parents Think about School Food?

You can download the full breakdown of the results of both surveys here (scroll to the bottom of the page).