Whole grain consumption among children who eat school meals increased substantially after the implementation of the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act (HHFKA), according to a new study by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
The study, which looked at whole-grain intake among U.S. citizens spanning from 1994 to 2018, found that after implementing HHFKA in 2012, a higher number of students who ate school meals "ate whole grains and also ate larger amounts of them."
In 2013-2014, almost half of students consuming school meals ate whole grains in those meals. Previously, that figure had never gone over 24%.
The amount of whole grains consumed by children eating whole grains in school meals also more than doubled from 1994–2010 to 2013-2018.
There were age and ethnicity differences in students’ consumption patterns. Older students and non-Hispanic white children were less likely to consume whole grains from school food compared to their peers.
The study also revealed that after 2013, school meals became the most whole grain-dense food source children received, both inside or outside the home.
Passed in 2010, HHFKA required school nutrition programs to serve whole grains for the first time. A previous study by the USDA also showed that school meals became more nutritious after the act's implementation.