Back to Top

Whole Grains on the Rise at Schools Thanks to New Meal Standards

AAEA member research highlighted in AJPM

In 2010 Congress passed the “Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act” calling for USDA school meals to include more whole grains and other healthy foods. But, are more schoolchildren trying whole grains at school, and if so, by how much? New research finds that since implementation of the Act, not only has the propensity to try whole grains more than doubled from one-in-five to one-in-two schoolchildren, but they are also consuming about 33% more whole grains.

Dietary Guidance and New School Meal Standards: Schoolchildren’s Whole Grain Consumption over 1994-2014” was recently published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine. The article is authored by Biing-Hwan Lin and Joanne Guthrie from the United States Department of Agriculture, Economic Research service, and AAEA Member, Travis Smith from the University of Georgia.

Smith says, “previous studies were either small local studies looking at consumption, or they looked at the foods put on the child's plate. Recently, the USDA published findings from its School Nutrition and Meal Cost Study, which was conducted after the new standards were implemented. That study found students who ate USDA school lunches and/or breakfasts consumed more whole grain with those meals than did non-participating students. This supports our findings; however, our results have the added value of demonstrating change over time.”

If you are interested in learning more about their article or speaking with Travis Smith, please contact Allison Scheetz in the AAEA Business Office.

ABOUT AAEA: Established in 1910, the Agricultural & Applied Economics Association (AAEA) is the leading professional association for agricultural and applied economists, with 2,500 members in more than 60 countries. Members of the AAEA work in academic or government institutions as well as in industry and not-for-profit organizations, and engage in a variety of research, teaching, and outreach activities in the areas of agriculture, the environment, food, health, and international development. The AAEA publishes two journals, the American Journal of Agricultural Economics and Applied Economic Perspectives & Policy, as well as the online magazine Choices. To learn more, visit

Contact: Allison Scheetz
Senior Communications Manager
(414) 918-3190