5 years ago

Food Waste in the National School Lunch Program 1978-2015: A Systematic Review

Food waste studies have been used for more than 40 years to assess nutrient intake, dietary quality, menu performance, food acceptability, cost, and effectiveness of nutrition education in the National School Lunch Program (NSLP). Objective Describe methods used to measure food waste and respective results in the NSLP across time. Methods A systematic review using PubMed, Science Direct, Informaworld, and Institute of Scientific Information Web of Knowledge was conducted using the following search terms: waste, school lunch, plate waste, food waste, kitchen, half method, quarter method, weight, and photography. Studies published through June 2015 were included. The systematic review followed preferred reporting items for systematic reviews and meta-analyses recommendations. Results The final review included 53 articles. Food waste methodologies included in-person visual estimation (n=11), digital photography (n=11), direct weighing (n=23), and a combination of in-person visual estimation, digital photography, and/or direct weighing (n=8). A majority of studies used a pre–post intervention or cross-sectional design. Fruits and vegetables were the most researched dietary component on the lunch tray and yielded the greatest amount of waste across studies. Conclusions Food waste is commonly assessed in the NSLP, but the methods are diverse and reporting metrics are variable. Future research should focus on establishing more uniform metrics to measure and report on food waste in the NSLP. Consistent food waste measurement methods will allow for better comparisons between studies. Such measures may facilitate better decision making about NSLP practices, programs, and policies that influence student consumption patterns across settings and interventions.

Publisher URL: www.sciencedirect.com/science

DOI: S2212267217305981

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