Objective: To examine the characteristics of food services in Victorian government primary and secondary schools.
Design and methods: A cross-sectional postal survey of all high schools and a random sample of one quarter of primary school respondents in Victoria. A `School Food Services and Canteen' questionnaire was administered by mail to the principal of each school.
Subjects: Respondents included principals, canteen managers and home economics teachers from 150 primary and 208 secondary schools representing response rates of 48% and 67%, respectively.
Main outcome measures: Responses to closed questions about school canteen operating procedures, staff satisfaction, food policies and desired additional services.
Data analyses: Frequency and cross-tabulation analyses and associated χ²-tests.
Results: Most schools provided food services at lunchtime and morning recess but one-third provided food before school. Over 40% outsourced their food services, one-third utilised volunteer parents, few involved students in canteen operations. Half of the secondary schools had vending machines; one in five had three or more. Secondary school respondents were more dissatisfied with the nutritional quality of the food service, and expressed more interest in additional services than primary respondents. Schools with food policies wanted more service assistance and used volunteer parents, student and paid canteen managers more than schools without policies.
Conclusion: Most schools want to improve the nutritional quality of their food services, especially via school food policies. There is a major opportunity for professional organisations to advocate for the supply of healthier school foods.
Reproduced with the kind permission of the copyright owner.
Field of Research
111199 Nutrition and Dietetics not elsewhere classified
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