Skip to Content

More Students Choosing Fruit Means Less Food in the Trash


The school meal standards set forth in the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010 have reduced school lunch plate waste and helped promote healthier eating, according to a new study from the Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity.

Following the announcement of the new guidelines a few years ago, concerns were raised about the possibility that requiring students to choose a fruit or vegetable would lead to more food waste.

“Some have expressed concern about the requirement that students take a fruit or vegetable,” said Leader Marlene Schwartz, lead author of the study and director of the Rudd Center. 

Instead, this report has found that the opposite is true—and that the reduction in plate waste is actually due in part to the fact that students are eating more fruits and entrees.

“We’re seeing a very positive response from students,” Schwartz said.

Among the key findings of the report is the fact that more students are choosing a fruit now than before the standards were put into place (66 percent now versus 54 percent then). Additionally, the better the variety of fruits offered, the more likely a student is to pick one: For each additional fruit offered, there was a 9 percent increase in the number of students who took some.

The report also found that students are now eating more of their entrees as well. And although fewer students are choosing a vegetable option, the amount of vegetables consumed has actually increased by almost 20 percent. Both of these findings mean that less food is being wasted.

“This research adds to evidence that the updated nutrition standards for the National School Lunch Program can succeed in helping students eat healthier,” Schwartz said.

To read a full copy of the study, please click here.

See Flickr Creative Commons License here