Nutritional analysis of school meals in some Saskatoon elementary schools
Gougeon, Laura Andres Rossi
Canadian scientific literature lacks quantitative information on school meals, which, in Can-ada, are not regulated by law and do not have any national nutritional standard. Nutritional stan-dards and guidelines are essential in evaluation and monitoring studies to maintain—or im-prove—school meals’ quality. This research looked at the nutritional quality of meals served by some elementary schools running a school meal program administered by CHEP Good Food Inc., a non-profit organization, in Saskatoon, SK. Data collected from 1997 until 2006 were combined to those collected in the 2007/08 school-year. Lunches were compared to 1/3 Dietary Reference Intakes (DRI), and breakfasts and snacks, to ¼ DRI. Using one-sample t-tests and ANOVA, p< 0.05, we evaluated nutrients that were suggested to be below the standard. Sas-katchewan’s food-based standards were also used to evaluate food group content according to the Canada’s Food Guide to Healthy Eating. On-site observations in selected schools shed light on children’s choices and plate waste. Focus groups with selected nutrition coordinators (NC) provided insight into their practices. Overall, lunches and breakfasts had a good nutrient profile but were low mainly in energy, vitamin E, potassium, and, in some years, folate and calcium, particularly for 9-13 year-olds. Findings suggested that snacks seem to be below the DRI stan-dards, but they can be an opportunity for nutrition education. We observed no clear or significant trend across the years. All meals offered good amounts of fruits and vegetables, grains, and dairy products. Plate waste was low and related to NCs’ practices. Analysis of the interviews exposed some possible explanations for the quantitative results and allowed some recommendations. Findings from this study provide support for future establishment of school meals’ nutritional standards and for possible changes and improvements of the program, and will enrich knowledge regarding school meals.
DegreeMaster of Science (M.Sc.)
SupervisorHenry, Carol J.
CommitteeRamdath, Dan; Pushor, Debbie; Baxter-Jones, Adam D. G.; Whiting, Susan J.
School Nutrition Policy