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Public Health Nutr. 2015 Jun;18(9):1565-77. doi: 10.1017/S1368980014002948. Epub 2014 Dec 29.

'It's just so much waste.' A qualitative investigation of food waste in a universal free School Breakfast Program.

Author information

1
Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy,Tufts University,150 Harrison Avenue,Boston,MA 02111,USA.

Abstract

OBJECTIVE:

To understand stakeholders' perspectives on food waste in a universal free School Breakfast Program implementing a Breakfast in the Classroom model.

DESIGN:

Semi-structured focus groups and interviews were conducted with school district stakeholders. Inductive methods were used to code resulting transcripts, from which themes were identified. The analysis provides a thematic analysis of stakeholders' perspectives on food waste in the School Breakfast Program.

SETTING:

Ten elementary schools in a large urban school district implementing a universal free Breakfast in the Classroom model of the US national School Breakfast Program.

SUBJECTS:

Elementary-school students (n 85), parents (n 86), teachers (n 44), cafeteria managers (n 10) and school principals (n 10).

RESULTS:

Stakeholders perceived food waste as a problem and expressed concern regarding the amount of food wasted. Explanations reported for food waste included food-related (palatability and accessibility), child-related (taste preferences and satiation) and programme-related (duration, food service policies, and coordination) factors. Milk and fruit were perceived as foods particularly susceptible to waste. Several food waste mitigation strategies were identified by participants: saving food for later, actively encouraging children's consumption, assisting children with foods during mealtime, increasing staff support, serving smaller portion sizes, and composting and donating uneaten food.

CONCLUSIONS:

Stakeholders recognized food waste as a problem, reported myriad contributing factors, and have considered and employed multiple and diverse mitigation strategies. Changes to the menu and/or implementation logistics, as well as efforts to use leftover food productively, may be possible strategies of reducing waste and improving the School Breakfast Program's economic, environmental and nutritional impact.

KEYWORDS:

Breakfast in the Classroom; Elementary school; Food waste; National School Breakfast Program; Students

PMID:
25543694
DOI:
10.1017/S1368980014002948
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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