Bridging the gap: Investigating the matches/mismatches of nutrition messages between the classroom and cafeteria of AISD high schools
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This research investigates the question: What is the relationship between the nutrition information delivered in classrooms and the food options offered in cafeterias at Austin ISD high schools? From 3 high schools, 6 health-affiliated teachers and 1 food service manager participated. The instructional material of the teachers and cafeteria food menus (March and April) were examined via content analysis. Coding was based on the food options that teachers explicitly and implicitly identified as healthy/unhealthy, which were sorted into the categories: Fruits, Vegetables, Grains, Protein, and Dairy. This was then compared to the food options on the menus. Interviews were also conducted to gain insight on the participants’ perspectives on the nutrition education curriculum, cafeteria food and school food policies. It was found that there were matches: the presence of more fresh food options than fried, more whole grains than refined, and all low-fat dairy products. However, there were also mismatches: daily offerings of burgers, fries and pizza, a lack of diversity in fruits and vegetables, and a lack of interaction opportunities between the teacher and food service staff. An underlying reason for these differences is because each department acts independently and holds different goals and objectives.