Healthy school lunch

The objective of this project is to encourage healthy eating habits in children of primary school age by developing and providing a healthy and affordable school lunch. This lunch is based on the Richtlijnen Goede Voeding (good food guidelines) and takes into consideration the wishes of children, parents, schools, and the opportunities for the sectors involved (such as fruit and vegetable, dairy, bakery, retail, and logistics).

The diets of children in the Netherlands could stand to be improved. The vast majority of Dutch children do not eat enough food from the Schijf van Vijf (food pyramid): they do not eat enough fruit, vegetables, whole-grain bread, and too many unhealthy products such as soft drinks, and sweet and salty snacks. This, and other lifestyle factors, impact children's health. These food-related problems occur proportionally more often in children from families with a lower socio-economic position.

Healthy lunch at school

Increasingly, primary schools in the Netherlands have been switching to a continuous schedule which means that all children have their lunch at school. This creates opportunities for encouraging healthy eating by a providing a healthy school lunch, which is not customary in the Netherlands. Not much is present in the literature about the potential and the effects of a healthy school lunch either. At the moment, it is unknown how a healthy school lunch can be organised in the Netherlands, and to what extent a healthy school lunch is supported by children, parents, and stakeholders. We are also lacking insight into the impact of a healthy school lunch on the nutritional intake of children. Will children start eating healthier because of a school lunch? This study aims to answer those questions.

Encouraging healthy eating habits

The research questions focus on:

The study is being conducted at primary schools in Lunteren, Amsterdam, and Vlaardingen, in different socio-economic areas, and takes different cultural backgrounds (such as a halal diet) into consideration. These schools will provide a full school lunch for six months. During the intervention, a process evaluation will be conducted which will identify factors for success and failure, in turn providing tools for broader implementation.

Intended impact of a healthy school lunch: