75% of Parents Think the Food Offered at School is Not Very Nutritious

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New Study by Russell Research Indicates Schools Are Falling Short In Providing Nutritious Food to Students

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This study indicates that, as millions of students get ready to go back to school in the next couple of weeks, the schools have some work to do in terms of meeting parents' expectations and concerns over nutrition.

A recent study conducted by Russell Research, a national research firm, indicates that, while a third of parents say their children buy lunch at school (and 43% say their children buy sometimes and take lunch sometimes) only 25% of American parents think the food offered to their children at school is very or extremely nutritious. Contrast these numbers to the 75% of parents who say they are somewhat or very concerned about providing nutritious food to their children.

Parents were also asked to rate their satisfaction level with what schools offer children for meals, snacks and drinks. A 10 point scale was used, with 1 being Not At All Satisfied and 10 being Extremely Satisfied. Only a third or less rated their satisfaction level in the top three box for meals. Drinks rated a bit higher. The majority of parents were tepid in their satisfaction ratings of school meals.

“This study indicates that, as millions of students get ready to go back to school in the next couple of weeks, the schools have some work to do in terms of meeting parents’ expectations and concerns over nutrition” said Russell Research partner John DeBiasio.

African Americans were significantly more likely than Caucasians to rate the food served at school as nutritious (37% vs 21% top three box ratings). They were also significantly more satisfied with breakfast (25% vs 13% top three box ratings) than Caucasians, while Hispanics were significantly more satisfied with drink options than Caucasians (57% vs 46% top three box).

When asked what foods they thought were being offered at school, almost 30% of parents answered fast food and candy and 42% said soda. However, the majority also believe fresh and canned fruit are offered, as well as milk, granola bars and snack foods. Additionally, 55% of parents interviewed think that schools should offer an array of food choices, while 45% feel they should offer only healthy choices. What could help? Three fourths of parents felt a monthly school menu with nutritional information was very appealing (rating top three boxes, 8-10).


The study was conducted online between August 20 and August 22, 2010, among 1,048 online adults, ages 21 or older, across the United States. Figures for gender, age, and geography were weighted where necessary to match their actual proportions in the population. A total of 365 parents were interviewed: 220 mothers and 145 fathers.

Results were tested at a 95% level of confidence.

About Russell Research, Inc.

Founded in 1946, Russell Research is one of the pioneer firms in the market research industry. Today, Russell Research is among the industry’s top custom research firms, with a seasoned staff of strategically-driven research professionals providing expertise and service for a wide range of customer and business product categories. Russell Research’s diverse group of clients include Fortune 1000 companies as well as mid-size and smaller enterprises, government agencies, advertising agencies, consultancies, and public relations firms.

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If you have any questions about this study or you are interested in seeing the full set of tabulated data, please contact:

George Djecki
Russell Research, Inc.


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George Djecki
Russell Research, Inc.
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