Document Type

Master's Culminating Experience

Publication Date



Background: The 2010 Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act (HHFKA) updated the national school meals standards from the 1995 to the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans. The HHFKA are the most comprehensive changes to the national school meal standards in 15 years. Measurement of food selection is essential to determine the impact of the new rules. This study develops an indicator, using production records, to track food selection in school cafeterias. Methods: Participating Ohio school districts applied interventions from The Smarter Lunchrooms Movement to cafeterias. Using MyPlate as a model and production records from two school districts, a coding system was developed to categorize foods, which were used to create the indicator, My Tray. Results: My Tray provides a visual snapshot of entrées, grains, vegetables, fruits, and milk selection. Students attending study schools selected fruits and vegetables to make 24% and 31% of the tray respectively. High school students selected the most fruit (22%) and elementary students selected 18%. Vegetable selection was highest in the elementary schools (37%), middle school was 29%, and high school selection was at 19%. Conclusion: My Tray displays food groups selection. My Tray is designed to track changes in lunchroom food selection. The tool can also be used to aggregate data across months, which can help to make comparisons across categories. Food service staff can use My Tray to track the impact of cafeteria interventions. The goal of establishing an indicator, using production, was challenging because of different recording methods, chasing missing information, and combination food items.

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