Students trash more fruits and vegetables when they're forced to take them under a federal school lunch mandate, according to a study published Tuesday.
Researchers compared lunchtime fruit and vegetable consumption at two elementary schools before and after the mandate kicked in in fall 2012. The mandate requires students to take either a fruit or vegetable with a meal reimbursable under the school lunch program of the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
The study in the journal Public Health Reports used digital imaging to more accurately track food that students took away on their trays, and to compare it with food that students dumped into the trash. It was performed at two elementary schools in the Northeast, surveyed in 2012 before the mandate went into effect and the following year.
Not only did much of the mandated food get dumped, but consumption of fruits and vegetables (referred to as FVs in the study) actually went down, said Sarah Amin, a nutrition researcher at the University of Vermont.