With just a few weeks left of the 2023-24 school year, students around the country are in the final days of experiencing things like recess, field trips, and school lunches.

So where have kids been eating the best this academic year?

School-based therapy company ProCare Therapy has released its State of School Lunch Report which ranks the states with the healthiest cafeteria offerings.

The rankings were based on five different factors, based on numbers from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Food and Nutrition ServiceFarm to School census, and the Health Resources and Service Administration’s National Survey of Children's Health:

  • Farm-to-school participation rate
  • Number of National School Lunch Program meals served (per 10,000 children)
  • Fruit consumption
  • Vegetable consumption
  • Sugary drink consumption

As for the Tri-State (South Dakota, Iowa, Minnesota) area, all three landed in the top half of the healthiest lunches in America.

Minnesota had the highest rating in the area at number 11.

Iowa was in the Top 20 at number 19.

South Dakota checked in at number 23.


  1. Massachusetts
  2. Maine
  3. Hawaii
  4. North Dakota
  5. Virginia
  6. Connecticut
  7. Georgia
  8. Vermont
  9. Rhode Island
  10. New Jersey


  1. Alaska
  2. New Mexico
  3. Wyoming
  4. Idaho
  5. Louisiana
  6. Montana
  7. Delaware
  8. Texas
  9. Mississippi
  10. South Carolina
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As for the most popular food item for students in each state, Iowa aligned with five other states (Indiana, Kansas, Ohio, Vermont, and Wisconsin) with Bosco Sticks as the top choice. If you don't know (like me until I looked it up), a Bosco Stick is essentially a breadstick with cheese inside.

The most popular food item for school kids in South Dakota and Minnesota is the Pizza burger, which is also the top choice in Idaho and Pennsylvania.

Square pizza edged out both as the most popular cafeteria item in seven states: Delaware, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Missouri, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Tennessee.

Favorite School Lunch
Food Service Director

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