Special Issue "Improving School Nutrition: Innovations for the 21st Century"

A special issue of International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health (ISSN 1660-4601). This special issue belongs to the section "Global Health".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: 31 December 2021.

Special Issue Editors

Dr. Lorrene D. Ritchie
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Nutrition Policy Institute, University of California Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources, 1111 Franklin St., 5th Floor, Oakland, CA 94607-5200, USA
Interests: nutrition; obesity; food insecurity; children; food programs
Dr. Wendi Gosliner
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Nutrition Policy Institute, University of California Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources, 1111 Franklin St., 5th Floor, Oakland, CA 94607-5200, USA
Interests: food systems; food programs; policy; poverty; food waste
Dr. Gurpinder Singh Lalli
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Education Observatory, Faculty of Education Health & Wellbeing, University of Wolverhampton, Wolverhampton WV1 1LY, UK
Interests: school food; food security; nutrition; food poverty; food policy

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

The prevalence of child food insecurity, poor diet, and obesity are at crisis proportions around the world, and schools are where children often consume much of their daily nutrition. Further, schools offer opportunities to advance sustainability goals given that food systems and food choices are implicated in climate change. Despite progress in recent decades, substantial challenges and opportunities to improve school nutrition remain. In the United States, for example, nearly all schools participate in the National School Lunch Program wherein schools are reimbursed for meals meeting nutrition standards. However, fewer schools participate in the School Breakfast Program and even fewer in the Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program for snacks. Even when school foods are available at no cost to students, many choose not to participate. Schools are in the business of educating students, and despite decades of evidence of the important connections between nutrition, health, and education, schools continue to struggle with integrating nutrition services into the school day, and governments struggle with adequately funding high-quality school foods that are free to all students as are other school services. If school meal policies were to accept children as active social agents rather than confined to decisions at the end of the process, then we might see more participative efforts. This Special Issue of the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health (IJERPH) focuses on 21st-century global innovations in school nutrition to overcome challenges and improve the diet, food security, and ultimately the health and wellbeing of school-aged children.

Topics of interest are organized below in four over-arching themes:

1) Food Security, Meal Participation, and Investments in School Food

  • Relationship between food security and school feeding programs and how to ensure students at greatest risk receive healthy, appropriate meals at school;
  • Efforts to institute a school meal program, and wellness policies;
  • Legislative successes from local to national: motivating school stakeholders and decision-makers to invest in school nutrition;
  • Innovations in cultural cuisine, the school dining experience, and foodservice delivery;
  • Out-of-school time: role of schools in nutrition during weekends, holidays, summer breaks;
  • Addressing disparities, the stigma of free and reduced-price meals, and shaming for not paying for school meals;
  • Cost–benefit analyses of school nutrition investments;
  • Historical lessons learned from school nutrition program creation and implementation over recent decades;

2)  Nutrition in School Meals

  • Strategies to improve meal/snack quality and student consumption of school foods:
    1. Cost structures and free programs;
    2. Kitchen equipment and foodservice staffing;
    3. Overcoming challenges in reducing sodium, added sugars and portion sizes, and increasing whole grains, fruits, and vegetables;
  • Student engagement and student-led initiatives to improve school nutrition;
  • Roles and engagement of others: parents, school foodservice, teachers, nurses, administrators;
  • Impacts of school nutrition on child health, wellness, and food security;
  • School-community collaborations to improve student nutrition;
  • Drinking water in schools: safety, access, promotion, and consumption;
  • Improving competitive foods and beverages: in and around schools and from home;

 3) Environmental Sustainability

  • Role of school nutrition in mitigating climate change;
  • School foodservice innovations in food and solid waste reduction;
  • Interventions to improve the sustainability of school foodservice;
  • School food policy that includes sustainability goals;

 4) Food Literacy and Nutrition Education in Schools

  • How to implement and sustain effective nutrition education in schools;
  • Impacts of curriculum innovation;
  • Impacts of school gardens, farm-to-school initiatives, cooking programs;
  • How to provide students with skills to navigate 21st century food environments and marketing.

In addition, manuscripts will be considered that cover the following:

  • Cross-country comparisons of school nutrition models and outcomes;
  • Research on school nutrition from underrepresented regions;
  • Recent lessons learned from adaptations due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Manuscript types accepted include new research papers involving interventions, secondary data analyses, or qualitative data analyses, reviews, position papers, brief reports, and commentaries.

Dr. Lorrene Ritchie
Dr. Wendi Gosliner
Dr. Gurpinder Singh Lalli
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All papers will be peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health is an international peer-reviewed open access semimonthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 2300 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.


  • school meal participation
  • nutrition education
  • food waste
  • environmental sustainability
  • nutrition standards
  • diet quality
  • food insecurity
  • equity
  • school foodservice

Published Papers

This special issue is now open for submission.
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