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Healthy Youth

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Food Safety

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Approximately 76 million cases of foodborne illness are reported in the United States annually, resulting in an average of 325,000 hospitalizations and 5,000 deaths.1

Each day, more than 27 million children get their lunch through the National School Lunch Program.2

Food is prepared in schools by foodservice staff and is brought into the school environment from vendors and the homes of students and staff. Therefore, a comprehensive approach is needed to ensure food safety in schools.3

Approximately two-thirds of food counter and fountain workers in the United States are aged 16–19.4

Schools are settings for teaching youth health-enhancing behaviors that last a life time… at home and at work.

Data & Statistics

School Health Policies and Programs Study
SHPPS is a national survey periodically conducted to assess school health policies and programs at the state, district, school, and classroom levels, including those related to food service.

More Data

Science-based Strategies

Strategies for Establishing a State School Food Safety Program [pdf 220K] outlines eight key strategies for states to adopt in addressing food safety in schools. Also available in HTML.

The Food-Safe Schools Action Guide provides a one-stop resource for preventing foodborne illness, and can help schools identify gaps in food safety and develop an action plan for becoming food-safe.

It's a SNAP!Healthy Schools, Healthy People — It’s a SNAP* (School Network for Absenteeism Prevention) is an education-based effort to improve health by making hand cleaning an integral part of the school day.

National, State, and Local Programs

CDC's Division of Adolescent and School Health (DASH) supports the development and implementation of effective health promotion policies and programs that address priority health risks among youth, including food safety. See DASH-funded state, territorial, and local agencies and tribal governments and national nongovernmental organizations.


  1. Mead PS, et al (1999). Food related illness and death in the United States. Emerging Infectious Diseases 1999; 5(5):607–625.
  2. Daniels NA, MacKinno, L, Rowe SM, Bean NH, Griffin PM, Mead PS. Foodborne disease outbreaks in United States schools. Pediatric Infectious Disease Journal 2002; 21: 623–8.
  3. USDA National School Lunch Program. Accessed May 5, 2005.
  4. United States Bureau of Labor Statistics; Division of Labor Force Statistics. (1998) Unpublished tabulations form the current population survey. See Table 12., Employed persons by detailed occupation, sex, and age, annual average.

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Page last reviewed: October 28, 2008
Page last modified: October 28, 2008
Content source: National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, Division of Adolescent and School Health