Just how are K-12 students reacting to the recently implemented federal meal mandates required by the Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010?

One recent research report by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation's Bridging the Gap program analyzes the results of two separate recent studies (one published in Childhood Obesity and the other through the Youth Education & Society Project) to conclude that "[p]erceptions of school administrators and food service personnel at public schools across the nation suggest reasonable student acceptance of school lunches at both elementary and secondary schools following implementation of the updated USDA nutrition standards."

That conclusion is disputed by the School Nutrition Association (SNA), which put out a response to Bridging the Gap's conclusions. According to SNA President Julia Bauscher, "these reported perceptions about school meals do not reflect reality. While many changes have been welcomed by students, there is no denying that some of the new requirements have driven students away from the National School Lunch Program (NSLP). US Department of Agriculture (USDA) data show that since schools began implementing the new requirements 1.4 million fewer students choose school lunch, even though 1.77 million more students have access to school meals through NSLP, due to increasing enrollment at NSLP schools."

The story has received significant publicity in major consumer media outlets such as the New York Times and the Boston Globe.