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Direct regulation of school lunch content seems an intuitive approach for improving the nutrition of many American children. However, little is known about substitution patterns in response to such efforts, particular the likelihood that children and parents will turn to competitive foods outside the control of schools such as packed lunches. To our knowledge, no previous work documents if increasing the healthfulness of school lunches leads children to leave the school lunch line for potentially less nutritious options. To address this paucity of information we estimate the demand for school lunches as a function of calories provided and entrée protein source for a single elementary school. Our results suggest a highly inelastic response to a meal’s calorie content and considerable sensitivity of demand to entrée protein source, suggesting that reductions in calorie content that may be possible under proposed changes to Federal regulation may enhance food service profits. In addition to using past records of lunch sales, we have launched a survey that explicitly explores the role of price, perceived palatability and perceived healthfulness on demand for school lunches. We discuss how this data will allow for the estimation of latent classes of decision makers that are shaped by household demographics, food and health attitudes and child involvement in the decision making process and how the data will help to decompose the drivers of demand for plate lunches in the district.

Keywords: Food Environment ; Nutrition ; Revealed Preference

Subject(s): Demand and Price Analysis

Food Consumption/Nutrition/Food Safety


Issue Date: 2012

Publication Type: Conference Paper/ Presentation

PURL Identifier:

Total Pages: 2

Series Statement: Poster


Record appears in: Agricultural and Applied Economics Association (AAEA) > 2012 Annual Meeting, August 12-14, 2012, Seattle, Washington

Autor: Pham, Matthew V. ; Roe, Brian E.


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