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J Am Diet Assoc. 1978 Oct;73(4):395-400.

Consumption and plate waste of menu items served in the National School Lunch Program.


Plate waste was determined in fifty-eight elementary and high schools in the USDA Western, Midwestern, and Southwestern Regions. By weighing sample trays and edible waste, the percentage of food served that was consumed was measured for 23,000 lunches. Highest consumption was recorded for milk, with 88 and 94 per cent consumed in the fifth and tenth grades respectively. Most entrées and starches were well consumed; vegetables and salads showed much less acceptability. Regional differences in food acceptability were minor, and high school students consistently wasted less food in all categories than did elementary pupils.

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