March 29, 2023 5:01 pm
Christina Lengyel,Louise St-Denis
Evaluation of school lunch programs
Names, Organizational Affiliations, and Locations of all Authors
P. Basilian1, C. Cooke 1, D. Lummerding, R McAuley, K Michnik,2 R. Engler-Stringer,2 N. Alaniz Salinas2, E. Kang3, R. Nasser3
1College of Pharmacy and Nutrition, University of Saskatchewan, Saskatoon, Saskatchewan; 2 Community Health and Epidemiology, University of Saskatchewan, 3 Saskatchewan Health Authority, Regina, Saskatchewan
School lunch programs provide children with nutritious and well-balanced meals for low-cost or free on school days. The Good Food for Learning Universal School Lunch Program is a two-year pilot study in two elementary schools in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan to implement and evaluate a promising model for school food programs in Canada.
Objective(s)/Process or Summary of Content
The purpose of this research project is to determine parent and caregiver perceptions of the universal school lunch program.
Method(s)/Systemic Approach Used
Parents and caregivers were recruited to participate in the self-administered survey (paper or electronic) through the school newsletter and in person. The survey consisted of eight demographic questions, five questions about the perceptions of the pilot program, and nine questions about a future school lunch model. Descriptive statistical analysis was used to interpret the data.
Completed surveys represented approximately 35% of households from both schools (n=89). Results indicate that parents appreciate that the program is free (72.5%), the food is healthy (72.5%) and the menu includes a variety of food (67.5%). The majority of parents agree that a program offered to all students/universally (90%) and for free (83%) are important aspects of a school lunch program. Of the parents and caregivers, 59% also indicate a willingness to pay 2$ per child per lunch.
The preliminary survey results show that a cost-free and universal are the biggest assets of a lunch program according to parents, followed closely by healthy food and a varied menu. Parents also demonstrate a willingness to pay 2$ per child per lunch.
Significance to Dietetics
The aspects identified as important in a lunch program by parents and caregivers can be used to inform decision makers of what families want in a universal lunch program.
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