This Is AuburnElectronic Theses and Dissertations

School Lunch Participation: Evaluating Reimbursable Meals and A la Carte Sales in the School Setting




Powell, Ashley Krudop

Type of Degree

PhD Dissertation


Education Foundation, Leadership, and Technology


The purpose of this study was to investigate student participation levels in the school nutrition program in a school district. Additionally, the study investigated reimbursable meal purchases compared to a la carte purchases. By investigating the relationships of school reimbursable meals, a la carte sales, and meal status, Child Nutrition Programs will be better able to assist in planning and proposing procedures for school programs under the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010. The program design included the collection of historical data of school lunch and a la carte purchases for all high school students at the selected school during the 2016-2017 school year. Student purchases were evaluated by school meal status (free, reduced, paid) over the 180-day school year. The student population included 676 tenth grade students, 627 eleventh grade students, and 620 twelfth grade students for a total population of 1,923 students. The free and reduced rate for this school population was twenty percent. Based on the data collection and analysis, there are significant differences in lunch meal purchases and a la carte sales based on meal status. The more meal purchases made in the school meal program indicated increased a la carte purchases. The data revealed students with a paid lunch status had a higher rate of a la carte items. However, purchases made by students with a free or reduced lunch status were not eliminated.