Evaluation of a Chef Based Intervention on Stakeholders' Satisfaction with School Lunch
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Chef-based training programs addressing culinary skills of school nutrition professionals are a growing trend. Studies of these interventions reflect better compliance with the 2012 USDA school meal regulations; less is known if they influence satisfaction of school meals among students, parents and faculty. The purpose of this project was to investigate if a chef-based intervention, Cooking for Kids, influenced stakeholder groups' satisfaction with the lunch program. The pre/post study was conducted in seventeen school districts that participated in the 9-month program. The survey was based on the satisfaction scale developed by the Child Nutrition Institute, and included a question assessing frequency of participation and open-ended comments. Scale items and overall satisfaction were compared using a 2x3 analysis of variance for time and frequency of participation. When Levene's Test for equality of variance was significant, an ordinal regression was conducted and R2 reported. Comments were coded by theme; frequency analysis was used to identify common themes. Chi-square was used to determine if the proportion of negative versus positive survey comments changed over time. The number of stakeholders that completed the surveys was 3,820 students, 660 parents, and 364 faculty. There was no change in satisfaction among students from pre- to post- intervention (p=0.84), but there was an increase in satisfaction among parents and administrators/faculty (p<0.01). Across all groups, stakeholders who always participated in the NSLP reported higher overall satisfaction compared to those who sometimes or never participated (p<0.001). Faculty had a significant shift in the proportion of negative to positive comments (p=0.004). The prevalent themes were related to taste and appeal of the food. Stakeholders who participated in the school lunch program were likely to be satisfied with the meals, compared to those who never participate. Appeal and taste tended to drive satisfaction. Soliciting input for school menus and introducing new foods with taste testings, among both participants and non-participants, may help increase stakeholders' satisfaction.
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