Evaluation of the Factors Influencing Participation in the National School Lunch Program (NSLP) for Latino Students During Middle School and High School Years
Background and Purpose: In California, approximately 3.2 million students participated in the National School Lunch Program (NSLP in 2015). It is estimated that Latino students received over 760,000 meals through the NSLP program. This study evaluates factors that influence middle and high school Latino students’ participation in the (NSLP). Methods: Study participants were a convenience sample of students (n = 232) utilizing a 22-question survey tool. The independent variables were grade level, gender, ethnicity, perceived social stigma, competitive foods served on and off campus, peer influences and parental influences. The dependent variable was participation in the NSLP. T-test, ANOVA, and Stepwise multiple regression were used to answer the research questions. Results: Latino students were not significantly different from non-Latino students in their participation rates in the NSLP. There were several significant predictors of NSLP participation for Latino students. Meal eligibility was the only significant predictor of participation in the NSLP for Latino students who are low-participators. Conclusions: Latino students are different from non-Latino students in the factors that influence their participation in the NSLP. Future research is needed to clarify the factors impacting Latino NSLP participation.