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Poll: Nine out of 10 Americans want to keep school meals healthy

Kathy Reincke
W.K. Kellogg Foundation
269.274.5445 (mobile)

BATTLE CREEK, MICH. – A new national survey commissioned by the W.K. Kellogg Foundation (WKKF) shows that people in the United States overwhelmingly support current efforts to keep school meals healthy. Among the key findings:

  • 86 percent support today’s school nutrition standards, which are helping more than 31 million kids get their daily nutrition through healthy school meals;
  • 88 percent support government-funded farm to school programs, which help supply school cafeterias with local, fresh produce.

“Our survey found that people in the U.S. overwhelmingly support strong nutrition standards and believe school meals are healthier and on the right track because of these standards,” said La June Montgomery Tabron, president and CEO of the W.K. Kellogg Foundation.

“Today, 67 percent of Americans say the nutritional quality of food served in public school cafeterias is excellent or good, which is up 41 percent from a national survey we conducted in 2010, before the standards were adopted,” she said.

The survey shows people in the U.S. believe the nutrition standards are instrumental in maintaining and improving the nutritional quality of school food and supporting children’s health:

  • 86 percent say the nutrition requirements should stay the same or be strengthened;
  • 93 percent say it’s very important or somewhat important to serve nutritious foods in school to support children’s health and ensure children are ready to learn and be successful.

The poll also surveyed views on farm to school programs, which bring food from local farms into school cafeterias and teach children about nutrition. Nearly 90 percent of those surveyed strongly support or somewhat support increasing government funding for farm to school programming.

“Kids eat what they know – and today more than 23 million students are learning about healthy food and local farms in the classroom and cafeteria through farm to school activities,” said Anupama Joshi, executive director of the National Farm to School Network. “Farm to school not only has a significant impact on building a generation of healthy eaters, but also creates economic opportunities for farmers and supports vibrant communities. It is so exciting to see the broad public support for this win-win approach.”

The survey showed strong support for healthy practices both in and out of school settings.

Nine out of 10 people surveyed said the federal recommendations known as the Dietary Guidelines for Americans should promote water as a preferred beverage choice. Even more – 91 percent – said ensuring kids have access to safe drinking water and encouraging them to consume more water is the number one or a high priority for improving the health and well-being of students.

“We’re learning that kids’ need for water is often overlooked or taken for granted,” Montgomery Tabron said. “It shouldn’t be. Good hydration improves cognitive function, and recommending water as the beverage of choice can help in the fight against childhood obesity.” 

Additionally, 84 percent of those surveyed said they strongly or partly agree that sustainable agriculture should be part of the Dietary Guidelines for Americans.

Complete poll results are available online at wkkf.org/2015SchoolFoodPoll. The poll is being discussed on social media with the hashtag #KeepKidsHealthy.

The survey was conducted by LJR Custom Strategies of 1,200 randomly selected adults across the U.S. using landline or mobile phones from May 17-27, 2015. It has a margin of error of plus or minus 2.9 percent.

About the W. K. Kellogg Foundation

The W.K. Kellogg Foundation (WKKF), founded in 1930 as an independent, private foundation by breakfast cereal pioneer, Will Keith Kellogg, is among the largest philanthropic foundations in the United States. Guided by the belief that all children should have an equal opportunity to thrive, WKKF works with communities to help break the cycle of poverty by removing barriers based on race or income that hold back children, so they can realize their full potential in school, work and life.

The Kellogg Foundation is based in Battle Creek, Michigan, and works throughout the United States and internationally, as well as with sovereign tribes. Special emphasis is paid to priority places where there are high concentrations of poverty and where children face significant barriers to success. WKKF priority places in the U.S. are in Michigan, Mississippi, New Mexico and New Orleans; and internationally, are in Mexico and Haiti. Follow WKKF on Twitter at @wk_kellogg_fdn.

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