Assessment of the National School Lunch Program in a Subset of Schools in San Juan, Puerto Rico: Participants vs. Non-Participants

Alan M. Preston, Heidi Venegas, Cindy A. Rodríguez, Rose M. Vélez-Rodríguez


Objective: Extensive evaluations of the national school lunch program (NSLP) have been carried out on the U.S. mainland. Puerto Rico, a commonwealth of the U.S. is a participant in this program, but has never been included in assessment studies. Herein, we present assessment information and compare results with comparable mainland studies. Methods: Multiple 24-hr recall questionnaires were administered to groups of participating (P) and non-participating (NP) children in the lunch program at 3 educational levels. Comparisons were made for children within the study as well as between comparable children in mainland studies for total intake of several macro and micro nutrients, contribution of the lunch to the total daily intake and adherence to U.S. Recommended Dietary Allowances (RDA’s) or to Dietary Reference Intakes (DRI’s) including acceptable macronutrient distribution ranges (AMDR’s). Results: Target intakes were met by P for % of the RDA of energy from protein, for all water soluble vitamins, iron, zinc and cholesterol. P did not achieve target intakes for total energy, energy from carbohydrates and fat nor for fat soluble vitamins, calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium and fiber. Recommended levels were exceeded for sodium, total fat and saturated fat. Comparing P vs NP, the vast majority of both groups fell within AMDR recommendations for macronutrients but not all micronutrients. Conclusion: For the most part, our results parallel those obtained in the National sample however, results suggest that P in the lunch program in Puerto Rico have a healthier intake of several nutrients than NP students. The unique feature of this study is that it is the first assessment of the NSLP in a completely Hispanic population.


Nutritional assessment, School lunch program, Puerto Rico, Dietary Intake.

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