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To explore factors that minimize lunch waste in Tokyo elementary schools and to consider how such factors can be modified and applied in US schools.
Focused ethnographic study using interviews, observation, participant observation and document review. Data were analysed using thematic analysis.
Five school dietitians participated in the study. Data collection methods included in-depth interviews, observation of nutrition education lessons, participant observation of school lunchtime and review of relevant school documents (e.g. lunch menus, food waste records).
Five themes emerged from the analysis: (i) reinforcement of social norms to eat without waste; (ii) menu planning to increase exposure to unfamiliar and/or disliked foods; (iii) integration of food and nutrition education into the school curriculum; (iv) teacher lunchtime practices related to portion sizes, distributing leftover food and time management; and (v) engagement of students in reducing school lunch waste. Practical and tangible applications to US schools include measuring and reporting lunch waste to influence social norms, teaching students about the importance of reducing food waste, offering flexible school lunch portion sizes and providing students with meaningful opportunities to contribute to solving the problem of school lunch waste.
Japan offers a model for minimizing school lunch waste through a holistic approach that includes factors that operate at and interact across multiple levels of society. Modifying and applying such an approach in US schools is worth considering given the urgent need to address food waste in order to support healthy diets and sustainable food systems.
To assess the nutritional quality of food packages offered in the Food Distribution Program on Indian Reservations (FDPIR) using the Healthy Eating Index 2010 (HEI-2010).
Data were collected from the list of the food products provided by the US Department of Agriculture’s Food and Nutrition Handbook 501 for FDPIR. Nutritional quality was measured through a cross-sectional analysis of five randomly selected food packages offered through FDPIR. HEI-2010 component and total scores were calculated for each food package. ANOVA and t tests assessed significant differences between food packages and HEI-2010 maximum scores, respectively.
This study took place in the USA.
Study units included food products offered through FDPIR.
The mean total HEI-2010 score for the combined FDPIR food packages was significantly lower than the total HEI-2010 maximum score of 100 (66·38 (sd 11·60); P<0·01). Mean scores for total fruit (3·52 (sd 0·73); P<0·05), total vegetables (2·58 (sd 0·15); P<0·001), greens and beans (0·92 (sd 1·00); P<0·001), dairy (5·12 (sd 0·63); P<0·001), total protein foods (4·14 (sd 0·56); P<0·05) and refined grains (3·04 (sd 2·90); P<0·001) were all significantly lower than the maximum values.
The FDPIR food package HEI-2010 score was notably higher than other federal food assistance and nutrition programmes. Study findings highlight opportunities for the FDPIR to modify its offerings to best support lifestyles towards prevention of diet-related chronic disease.
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