Study looks at school lunch plate waste

01/28/2013 12:33:00 PM
Vicky Boyd

Although school lunch providers are serving up healthier fare, that doesn't necessarily mean kids are eating it.

A research group led by Texas A&M AgriLife and the Institute for Obesity at Texas A&M University has been measuring food waste in elementary schools in Bryan and Dallas, according to a news release.

Bryan is a community adjacent to College Station, home of Texas A&M University.

The project is funded by the Alliance for Potato Research and Education.

It follows school nutritional guidelines set by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

They plan to visit the schools 30 times when students are served potatoes with either green beans, veggie dippers, or corn and peas.

The team is using standard methods to measure plate waste to determine whether consumption differs for meals that included potatoes compared to alternative vegetables.

“Importantly, we plan to quantify consumption/plate waste of not only potatoes, other starchy vegetables and non-starchy vegetables, but also for the entire lunch meal on ‘potato days’ versus ‘non-potato days,’” Texas AgriLife Research scientist Peter Murano said in the release.

Students hired as plate waste warariors monitor the waste bins.

Leftovers are separated into different waste bags, and each bag is weighed for a plate-waste measurement.

Observations have shown a wide range of waste, from students eating very little to those preferring fruit over vegetables.

Although other researchers have looked at plate waste, Texas AgriLife Research economist Oral Capps said it has not been done to this extent.

Nutrition and meal costs also are part of the research.



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