Date of Award

12-2009

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science

Major

Nutrition

Major Professor

Marsha Spence

Committee Members

Carol Costello, Hollie Raynor

Abstract

Background

As part of a Coordinated School Health Program project to improve the nutrition quality of school meals, a series of nutrition education and culinary training in-service workshops were conducted followed by the implementation of healthier menu options. The objectives of this study were 1) to evaluate the effect of the training on food service employees’ attitudes about nutrition, self-efficacy for preparing healthier meals, and meal preparation behavior changes and 2) to determine the plate waste percentages of school meals and school meal participation rates before and after healthier school meals were implemented. Methods

The study was completed in a rural East Tennessee school district. The subjects were 12 food service employees. Three workshops, two-hours each, and one full day workshop were planned and conducted by a registered dietitian, chef, and public health nutrition graduate student for the food service employees. Pre-, post-, and follow-up questionnaires were administered to participants. Following the conclusion of the workshops, three plate waste measurements were completed in each elementary school, using a random sample of students’ trays in grades first through sixth. These measurements were completed at baseline, after the healthier menu options were implemented, and at four weeks follow-up. Results

The nutrition education and culinary training in-service workshops improved the food service employees’ self-efficacy for preparing healthier school meals. The plate waste results at School 1 indicated no significant change in plate waste from baseline to after implementation of healthier school meals. No significant change in lunch, but significantly increased waste for breakfast at School 2 after implementation (P<.001) and at follow-up (P<.001). School 3 showed significantly increased waste for breakfast after implementation (P<.001) and at follow-up (P<.001) and lunch after implementation (P<.001) and at follow-up (P<.001). Conclusion

Educating food service employees is an important step in implementing healthier menu items. However additional efforts may be necessary throughout the school to encourage the support of principals, parents, and teachers to help promote children’s consumption of healthier menu items.

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