Document Type

Honors Thesis




Lynn Atkins

Committee Members

Jade McNamara, Katheryn Yerxa

Graduation Year

May 2023

Publication Date

Spring 2023


In this research study, I analyzed the nutrition of school lunches in Maine’s public and private middle schools. Proper nutrition is a vital component for not only the physical development but the intellectual and academic performance of children, particularly those entering the early stages of puberty. More specifically, nutrients, such as vitamin C, potassium, and folic acid, provided in fruits and vegetables increase immunity, manage blood pressure, and support cell growth and function (Brown, 2017). I conducted this research to determine if Maine’s schools are currently meeting the state and federal guidelines overseen by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA).

The questions posed in this study were: are students in school lunch programs being offered the nutrients they need to support their intellectual development and has the likelihood of meeting dietary nutrient recommendations changed? I used qualitative and quantitative data to answer these questions by researching published lunch menus in different Maine middle schools. Additionally, I explored the behavioral and socioeconomic aspects that may contribute to the menu quality of the 12 schools through reviewing outside literature. After analysis of the lunch menus from middle schools in both urban and rural populations, I determined that Maine schools were more likely to meet the vegetable requirements in school lunches than those for fruits, as eight of the twelve schools served vegetables every day in the month of November. However, only seven schools served fruit daily at lunch, with one school not serving fruit once for the entire month of November 2022. The population’s geographical location and average economic status may have contributed to the availability of fruits and vegetables, as schools located in the southern districts in Maine and those classified as urban were more likely to meet the fruit and vegetable standards at lunch.