Indicators of Success When Incorporating Whole Grains into School Meals: HealthierUS School Challenge
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The 2005 Dietary Guidelines for Americans for the first time emphasized an increase in daily whole grain consumption in children, adolescents, and adults, and identified a recommended intake of 3 one-ounce servings per day. Despite national dietary policy recommendations and current scientific evidence encouraging an increase in whole grain intake, most Americans are consuming less than one whole grain serving per day. Therefore, a need to determine methods to increase whole grain intake in Americans does exist. One identified method would be to increase whole grain intake in children through the incorporation of whole grain foods into school meals. This study was designed to determine, through the creation of an online survey, methods utilized by school food service professionals overseeing HealthierUS School Challenge Gold rated elementary schools to successfully incorporate whole grain food products into school meals. Data collected from the online survey indicated school food service professionals that incorporated whole grains into their school meals by slowly modifying recipes and gradually incorporating new whole grain foods onto their existing menu were the most successful. Survey results also indicated that students preferred partial blend whole grain products compared to those made from 100% whole wheat. Additionally, survey participants reported barriers to whole grain food incorporation which included: product acceptability, whole grain product identification, whole grain product availability, and cost. There is a need to further understand measures that can be taken to successfully introduce more whole grain food products into elementary school lunches without causing a decrease in consumption of the school meals by students. Data gathered from this survey will be shared with the United States Department of Agriculture's Food and Nutrition Service (USDA-FNS) to provide technical assistance to schools participating in the National School Lunch Program and School Breakfast Program on how to successfully menu whole grain food products in their schools and maintain alignment with current national dietary recommendations.
Sceets, Christine Elizabeth (2011). Indicators of Success When Incorporating Whole Grains into School Meals: HealthierUS School Challenge. Master's thesis, Texas A&M University. Available electronically from