Large variation in supply of free daily school meals between lower and upper secondary school
The Centre for the Evaluation of Public Health Initiatives at NIPH has examined the school food provision in Norwegian lower and upper secondary schools. Findings from our national survey indicate that six percent of upper secondary schools provided a daily free meal, compared to 45% of lower secondary schools.
Provision of a daily, free school meal might influence students’ diets, school environments, learning outcomes and reduce social inequalities. Despite the ongoing preparation for a national school food scheme in Norway, some schools are already providing food and meals to their students.
In the years 2020–2022, the Norwegian Institute of Public Health (NIPH) surveyed all public lower and upper secondary schools in Norway. The mapping gave a response rate of 83% and 87%, respectively. The results revealed that 16% of the lower secondary schools (n = 817) had some sort of school food arrangement, but only 6% offered at least one free daily meal. Among the upper secondary schools (n = 299), 70% reported having school food arrangements and 45% offered a free daily meal to their students. Almost all (95%) of the upper secondary schools had school canteens where students could buy food. The most common school food arrangement was breakfast, often oatmeal breakfasts.
The study found huge variations between the 11 counties in distribution of free school meals. In other words, this study concludes that there are far more upper secondary schools that offer school meals than lower secondary schools.