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J Nutr Educ Behav. 2019 Nov - Dec;51(10):1202-1210.e1. doi: 10.1016/j.jneb.2019.08.002. Epub 2019 Sep 13.

Impact of a Pilot School-Based Nutrition Intervention on Fruit and Vegetable Waste at School Lunches.

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Department of Epidemiology, Environmental Health, and Genetics, Michael and Susan Dell Center for Healthy Living, University of Texas School of Public Health, Houston, TX. Electronic address:
Michael and Susan Dell Center for Healthy Living, University of Texas School of Public Health in Austin, Austin, TX.
Department of Health Promotion Behavioral Sciences, University of Texas School of Public Health, Houston, TX.
Houston Independent School District Food Service Support Facility, Houston, TX.
Brighter Bites, Dallas, TX.



To determine the preliminary impact of the Brighter Bites nutrition intervention on decreasing fruit and vegetable (F&V) waste at school lunches among fourth- and fifth-grade children.


This was a nonrandomized pre-post-controlled study in Houston and Dallas, TX. Two schools received the Brighter Bites intervention (n = 76), and 1 comparison school (n = 39), during the 2017-2018 school year. Brighter Bites is a 16-week school-based nutrition intervention providing weekly distribution of fresh F&V plus nutrition education. Main outcome measures were direct observation and weights to measure the number of F&V dishes selected at school lunches, amount of F&V wasted (gm), and related nutrient waste (4 time points/child). Mixed-effects linear regression analysis was used to determine change in F&V selection and waste over time.


There was a significant decrease over time in proportion of F&V selected among those in the comparison school, but not the intervention schools (P < .001). Compared with children in the comparison group, those receiving Brighter Bites showed a significant decrease in the amount of F&V wasted at each meal (P < .001) and per item (P < .05) at the end of both 8 and 16 weeks of intervention. There were significant decreases in waste of energy (kcal); dietary fiber (gm); vitamins B1, B3, and B6 (mg); total folate (µg); and B12 (µg) among those receiving Brighter Bites (P < .05).


Although absolute food or nutrient changes were small even when significant, programs such as Brighter Bites may contribute to a healthy intake. Future studies are warranted that include a larger sample size with a stringent, cluster-randomized control trial design and consideration for other covariates.


child dietary intake; fruit and vegetable consumption; nutrient waste; plate waste; school lunch


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