Children do not always eat everything on their lunch or breakfast trays. While the USDA attempts to mandate compliance in nutrition integrity of meals provided by school food service, there is no guarantee that children will actually consume everything. G. Richard Jansen and Judson M. Harper, in their 1978 study of the consumption and plate waste of food in the NSLP of fifty-eight elementary schools and high schools, reported that of the 23,000 lunches measured, students tended not to eat all items in the meals. High school students tended to waste less food than elementary students. In 2001, Shanklin found that while students chose meals that were healthful, many did not finish their meals. Vegetables were the least popular item in the meals. While 64 percent of the students selected green peas, most of the students discarded half of what they chose.
The issue of plate waste is an important one. Parents and teachers may help by educating students about nutrition and the importance of eating healthful meals, while school-food service personnel can strive to offer nutritious choices in ways that students will find more appealing.
Was this article helpful?