Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)




The National School Lunch Program (NSLP) is one of the longest federally funded programs in the United States. The program is meant to provide food that is nutritious and affordable to schoolchildren. Indeed, most students receive free or a reduced price lunch highlighting the importance of affordability and nutrition in the school lunch system. Since the creation of the NSLP in 1946 debates about food quality and nutrition standards have consumed school lunch reform discussions. Many health organizations stress the importance of child nutrition, and advocate for the means to prevent diseases such as childhood obesity, diabetes, and heart disease. Often, these concerns are overshadowed by the federal government's political priorities. This leads the government to make decisions based on costs and benefits rather than the stated goals of the program. This study analyzes five congressional hearings that occurred prior to the reauthorization of the Child Nutrition Act of 2004. By doing so, the interests of Congress as well as other competing organizations are realized. In addition, this study highlights public reactions and concerns toward children's nutrition to identify their interests in relation to the federal government's. The purpose of this study is not to determine how effective the NSLP has been, but to reveal how the program changes in an environment filled with competing interests.

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