School Lunch Program:

Cafeteria Managers' Views on Food Wasted by Students

RCED-96-191: Published: Jul 18, 1996. Publicly Released: Jul 26, 1996.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO provided information on food waste from school lunches provided to school children under the National School Lunch Program.

GAO found that: (1) school cafeteria managers had varying perceptions about the degree to which food waste was a problem; (2) elementary school cafeteria managers were more likely to perceive food waste as a more serious problem; (3) the amount of food wasted varied by the type of food, with cooked vegetables being wasted more often; (4) many cafeteria managers believed that students' attention on recess or free time, rather than lunch, contributed to waste; (5) many cafeteria managers believed that allowing students to select what they wanted to eat would reduce waste; and (6) most cafeteria managers were satisfied with the federal commodities they received for use in the School Lunch Program, but about 10 percent reported that they would rather not receive at least half of the different types of commodities they received under the program.

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