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Abstract

Objectives : To examine Plate Waste (PW) from elementary and middle school-aged children by school and by grade when grapes were on the lunch menu versus when they were absent. The primary hypothesis tested was that grapes enhance consumption and lessen plate waste, thereby serving as a “gateway” fruit to healthier eating. The foods examined were selected fruits, vegetables, and entrées. The endpoints of analysis included lost dollars and lost nutrients (calories, fat, sodium, protein, and fiber.) Methods: In two elementary schools and two middle schools from one school district (ISD) in Texas, PW of food items served on the school lunch menu was calculated for all students collectively by grade, enabling comparisons between the two school levels. Results: Findings suggest that when the food environment included grapes, consumption of healthier menu items increased, while consumption of less healthy menu items decreased. On grape days, lost dollars per serving of vegetables was lower compared to non-grape days. This difference was significantly different from zero. Intakes of effective calories, fat, sodium, protein, and fiber per serving of entrées, vegetables and fruits on grape days were higher versus non-grape days, and differences were statistically significant. Conclusions: The presence of grapes had a positive impact regarding the school lunch eating behaviors of children. PW of entrée, fruit, and vegetable items impacted nutrient consumption as well as wasted dollars –considerations for school foodservice.

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