Paediatrics Publications

Title

Children’s perceptions of a centrally procured school food program in southwestern Ontario, Canada

Document Type

Article

Publication Date

1-1-2021

Journal

Health Promotion and Chronic Disease Prevention in Canada

Volume

41

Issue

4

First Page

131

Last Page

137

URL with Digital Object Identifier

10.24095/HPCDP.41.4.02

Abstract

Introduction: This qualitative study investigates children’s perceptions of the influences of a Centrally Procured School Food Program on their dietary behaviours and their recommendations on how to improve the program. Methods: The observations of 208 students aged 9 to 14 years (Grades 5–8) at 21 elementary schools were collected through focus groups in 2017/18. The larger intervention consisted of a 10-week program offering daily snacks (i.e. fruit, vegetables, whole grains, dairy, meat alternatives) for elementary school children in southwestern Ontario, Canada. Results: The participants’ overall impressions of the program were positive. They noted reduced hunger, increased energy and improved nutrition. Many children felt that the program changed their dietary patterns at home as well as at school, particularly in terms of eating more fruit and vegetables. The snack program also enabled children to try healthy foods. Conclusion: Most participants considered the program to be beneficial in promoting healthy eating. Participants recommended adding educational activities, expanding the variety of foods and increasing child involvement in selecting and preparing foods.

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