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, 51 (10), 1202-1210.e1

Impact of a Pilot School-Based Nutrition Intervention on Fruit and Vegetable Waste at School Lunches

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Impact of a Pilot School-Based Nutrition Intervention on Fruit and Vegetable Waste at School Lunches

Shreela Sharma et al. J Nutr Educ Behav.

Abstract

Objective: To determine the preliminary impact of the Brighter Bites nutrition intervention on decreasing fruit and vegetable (F&V) waste at school lunches among fourth- and fifth-grade children.

Method: This was a nonrandomized pre-post-controlled study in Houston and Dallas, TX. Two schools received the Brighter Bites intervention (n = 76), and 1 comparison school (n = 39), during the 2017-2018 school year. Brighter Bites is a 16-week school-based nutrition intervention providing weekly distribution of fresh F&V plus nutrition education. Main outcome measures were direct observation and weights to measure the number of F&V dishes selected at school lunches, amount of F&V wasted (gm), and related nutrient waste (4 time points/child). Mixed-effects linear regression analysis was used to determine change in F&V selection and waste over time.

Results: There was a significant decrease over time in proportion of F&V selected among those in the comparison school, but not the intervention schools (P < .001). Compared with children in the comparison group, those receiving Brighter Bites showed a significant decrease in the amount of F&V wasted at each meal (P < .001) and per item (P < .05) at the end of both 8 and 16 weeks of intervention. There were significant decreases in waste of energy (kcal); dietary fiber (gm); vitamins B1, B3, and B6 (mg); total folate (µg); and B12 (µg) among those receiving Brighter Bites (P < .05).

Conclusions and implications: Although absolute food or nutrient changes were small even when significant, programs such as Brighter Bites may contribute to a healthy intake. Future studies are warranted that include a larger sample size with a stringent, cluster-randomized control trial design and consideration for other covariates.

Keywords: child dietary intake; fruit and vegetable consumption; nutrient waste; plate waste; school lunch.

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