266386 Baseline findings from LAUSD middle school plate waste study

Monday, October 29, 2012

William McCarthy, PhD , Department of Health Services, UCLA School of Public Health, Los Angeles, CA
Tammy Liu, MPH (candidate) , Community Health Sciences, UCLA School of Public Health, Los Angeles, CA
Emily Ventura, PhD , UCLA Division of Cancer Prevention and Control Research, UCLA School of Public Health, Los Angeles, CA
Vivian Alfonso, MPH , Department of Epidemiology, UCLA School of Public Health, Los Angeles, CA
Tony Kuo, MD, MSHS , Division of Chronic Disease and Injury Prevention, Los Angeles County Department of Public Health, Los Angeles, CA
Barbara Dietsch, PhD, RD , Health and Human Development Program, WestEd, Los Alamitos, CA
Background: The Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) has proactively adopted Institute of Medicine recommendations for healthier school lunches, including the provision of more fruits and vegetables, in part by providing more ethnically/culturally diverse plant-based foods. It also stopped serving flavored milk, serving only white milk. This study documents cross-time changes in fruit, vegetable, and milk intake as students become accustomed to the new school lunch menu.

Methods: A plate waste study featuring aggregate weighing of categorized food waste was conducted for five days each at four randomly selected LAUSD middle schools. Observational assessments captured student sex, ethnicity, and quantity of fruits, vegetables and milk left on their lunch trays.

Results: The 2,227 observations included 56% boys, 44% girls, 26% African Americans, 49% Latinos, 5% White, 4% Asian/PI, 7% Other. Per capita waste averaged 17 grams of fruit (and container), 19 grams of vegetable waste, and 83 grams of milk waste. Girls had less fruit waste than boys. Whites had less milk waste than African Americans but had more fruit waste than African Americans and Asian/PI students. When the fruit option consisted of juice, there was less fruit waste, and students chose fewer meal components. As vegetable choice increased, there was lower per capita vegetable waste but also lower student meal participation.

Conclusions: Getting middle school students to eat healthier requires attending to individual and cultural differences. Five month follow-up data will show whether fruit, vegetable and milk waste will decrease as students acclimate to the new LAUSD lunch menu.

Learning Areas:
Chronic disease management and prevention
Conduct evaluation related to programs, research, and other areas of practice
Diversity and culture
Protection of the public in relation to communicable diseases including prevention or control
Public health or related laws, regulations, standards, or guidelines
Public health or related public policy

Learning Objectives:
1. List 2-3 changes in the National School Lunch Programís recently revised nutritional standards as part of the 2010 Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act. 2. Identify differences in food waste by gender and ethnicity in LAUSD middle school students. 3. Discuss possible explanations for the observed decrease in vegetable waste on days with more vegetable offerings.

Keywords: Students, Nutrition

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I have been the PI or co-PI of multiple federally funded grants focused on school nutrition.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.