Most Kentucky parents believe their child receives a nutritious lunch at school, according to a Kentucky Health Issues Poll released Thursday.
In 2013, 532,791 Kentucky children participated in the National School Lunch Program. The program provides low-cost or free lunches to children each school day. Lunches are based on the latest Dietary Guidelines for Americans and must meet federal meal requirements.
Overall, the poll showed that 67 percent of parents said their oldest child’s school lunch is very nutritious or somewhat nutritious.
But ideas about the nutritional value of school lunch varies across the state. Parents in Northern and Western Kentucky and Lexington were more likely to say their child’s lunch is nutritious or somewhat nutritious.
Parents in Louisville and Eastern Kentucky were less likely to view school lunch as nutritious.
About 70 percent of Kentucky parents responding to the poll said their child’s school should offer more lunch options for meals made from scratch.
Meals for Jefferson County Public Schools students are prepared at a centralized production kitchen, said Terina Edington, assistant director for nutrition services for JCPS.
“It allows us to make a high-quality, consistent product that we then bag, freeze and ship out to schools, where schools reheat and serve on the line,” she said.
Edington said JCPS students are served numerous made-from-scratch items, such as marinara sauce made with locally grown produce, low-fat ranch dressing, whole-grain rolls, taco meat and chili.
“When a parent is going through the line … they see a packaged product being prepared at the school location and they think ‘Oh that’s been a purchased product,’ when in fact it’s something we have made from scratch at our central kitchen and have shipped out ourselves to the school location,” she said.
The poll was funded by the Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky and Interact for Health, formerly the Health Foundation of Greater Cincinnati. (The Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky is part of the partnership for WFPL’s Next Louisville: Community Health project.)
KHIP was conducted between Oct. 8 and Nov. 6. Researchers from the Institute for Policy Research at the University of Cincinnati interviewed 1,597 adults throughout Kentucky by telephone.