Food type, food preparation, and competitive food purchases impact school lunch plate waste by sixth-grade students.
Sommaire de l'article
Because plate waste reduces nutritional benefits of school lunches, the objective of this study was to determine the factors that influence waste. Lunches of 743 sixth graders in three middle schools were photographed after students made food selections and after eating. Sample items were purchased to determine initial portion weights. The Statistical Package for Social Sciences software (Base 10.0, 1995, SPSS Inc, Chicago, IL) was used for statistical analysis. Preparation method influenced acceptance rates and plate waste: Whole apples had lower acceptance (23%) and greater waste (62%) compared with applesauce (37% acceptance, 23% waste). Mashed potatoes and heated fries had similar acceptance (approximately 69%), but mashed potatoes were wasted less (19% vs 33%, respectively). Students who purchased competitive food items with lunch (n=250) had significantly greater waste of fruits (52% vs 36%, respectively, P=.0001), grain products (26% vs 14%, respectively, P=.009), meats (25% vs 16%, respectively, P=.015), and mixed dishes (30% vs 18%, respectively, P=.0001). Changing preparation methods and limiting availability of competitive food items may reduce plate waste.