Food Choice and Waste in University Dining Commons-A Menus of Change University Research Collaborative Study

Foods. 2021 Mar 10;10(3):577. doi: 10.3390/foods10030577.


The purpose of this multi-campus research was to investigate the relationships of food type and personal factors with food choice, consumption, and waste behaviors of college students at all-you-care-to-eat dining facilities. The amount of food taken and wasted was indirectly measured in units relative to the plate size using before and after photos taken by the diners themselves. Animal protein and mixed dishes (e.g., stir fry, sandwich) took up more of diners' plate space and these items were correlated to both greater hedonic appeal as well as a higher likelihood of the item being pre-plated. Greater confidence in liking an item before choosing it was correlated to a larger portion being taken. Finally, increased satisfaction with the meal and frequency of visiting the dining commons was correlated to less food waste. Understanding these potential food choice drivers can help dining facilities better target healthier meals to diners while reducing food waste.

Keywords: food choice; food waste; multiple correspondence analysis; university dining commons.