Document Detail

School lunch waste among middle school students: nutrients consumed and costs.
MedLine Citation:
PMID:  23332326     Owner:  NLM     Status:  MEDLINE    
BACKGROUND: The National School Lunch Program has been guided by modest nutrient standards, and the palatability of meals, which drives consumption, receives inadequate attention. School food waste can have important nutritional and cost implications for policymakers, students, and their families.
PURPOSE: Nutrient losses and economic costs associated with school meal waste were examined. The study also assessed if school foods served were valid proxies for foods consumed by students.
METHODS: Plate waste measurements were collected from middle school students in Boston attending two Chef Initiative schools (n=1609) and two control schools (n=1440) during a 2-year pilot study (2007-2009) in which a professional chef trained cafeteria staff to make healthier school meals. The costs associated with food waste were calculated and the percentage of foods consumed was compared with a gold standard of 85% consumption. Analyses were conducted in 2010-2011.
RESULTS: Overall, students consumed less than the required/recommended levels of nutrients. An estimated $432,349 of food (26.1% of the total food budget) was discarded by middle school students annually at lunch in these Boston middle schools. For most meal components, substantially less than 85% was consumed.
CONCLUSIONS: There is substantial food waste among middle school students in Boston. Overall, students' nutrient consumption levels were below school meal standards, and foods served were not valid proxies for foods consumed. The costs associated with discarded foods are high; if translated nationally for school lunches, roughly $1,238,846,400 annually is wasted. Students might benefit if additional focus were given to the quality and palatability of school meals.
Juliana F W Cohen; Scott Richardson; S Bryn Austin; Christina D Economos; Eric B Rimm
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Publication Detail:
Type:  Journal Article; Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural    
Journal Detail:
Title:  American journal of preventive medicine     Volume:  44     ISSN:  1873-2607     ISO Abbreviation:  Am J Prev Med     Publication Date:  2013 Feb 
Date Detail:
Created Date:  2013-01-21     Completed Date:  2013-06-27     Revised Date:  2013-10-17    
Medline Journal Info:
Nlm Unique ID:  8704773     Medline TA:  Am J Prev Med     Country:  Netherlands    
Other Details:
Languages:  eng     Pagination:  114-21     Citation Subset:  IM    
Copyright Information:
Copyright © 2013 American Journal of Preventive Medicine. Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Department of Nutrition, Harvard School of Public Health, Boston, Massachusetts 02115, USA.
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MeSH Terms
Costs and Cost Analysis
Feeding Behavior
Food / economics
Food Preferences*
Food Services / economics,  statistics & numerical data*
Menu Planning
Nutritive Value
Pilot Projects
Students / statistics & numerical data*
Grant Support
R25 CA098566/CA/NCI NIH HHS; R25 CA098566/CA/NCI NIH HHS

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