To describe food consumption during the school day of rural Jamaican children and participation in two government school feeding programmes. To determine factors which were related to these.
16 primary schools in rural Jamaica.
415 children in grades 2 and 5 (ages 7 and 10 years).
Consumption of sweets, sweet drinks and snacks was high. Mean intakes at lunch were: energy 1537 kJ (SD 756), protein 10.4 g (SD 7.6) and iron 1.5 mg (SD 1.2). The mean energy intake was 17–20% of the daily requirement for this age group. Two types of school feeding programmes were available in the schools, one provided a cooked meal and the other a bun and milk. Median availability of school meals (as a percentage of children enrolled in the schools) over three terms was 24.6% (range 0–85.4%). Twenty per cent of the children participated in one or other programme. Poorer children were more likely to participate in the bun and milk programme (odds ratio 2.1, 95% C1 1.3–3.5) but children with more money to purchase food participated in the more costly cooked meal programme (odds ratio 2.4, 95% CI 1.3–4.6).
Energy intakes at lunch in Jamaican children were somewhat below optimal levels and the reliance on sweets and snacks is an area of concern. Programme characteristics such as meal cost, may affect access to school feeding by poor children.