Children's Preferences for the Dishes Offered by School Lunch Programs
To evaluate the school lunch program served by elementary schools in Muan, Korea, we examined children's preference for the dishes offered on the menus. School lunch program menus showing the food composition of 400 meals (100 meals in each season) were collected. The serving frequency of each dish on the menus was counted. Eighty-seven representative dishes were selected based on the serving frequency and preference for each dish was determined by a survey of 414 elementary school students who were served by the school lunch program. We also analyzed the nutrient contents of each representative dish. Among the prepared foods, children indicated the highest preference for desserts. Steamed rice was served more frequently as a main course than one dish meals, although children preferred one dish meals to steamed rice. Among side dishes, those that were deep-fried were the most preferred. Children indicated high preference for fruits, milk, and eggs, and low preference for fish and clams, vegetables, and beans. The serving frequency with which main courses, soups, and side dishes were served showed no correlation with children's preference for each. Preference for dishes correlated positively with nutrient contents of calories and lipids, but negatively with nutrient contents of fiber, calcium and vitamin A. According to these results we can suggest that dietitian should consider children's preference into greater consideration to increase menu acceptability and thereby reduce waste. Children need to be educated about the roles and contents of nutrients in food and the fact that preference for foods affects nutrient intake.