"Equity Center researcher, Dr. Bill McCarthy
was charged with evaluating the impact of new food policies at LAUSD schools on student food consumption. To do this, he and his colleagues developed a novel protocol of food waste assessment. This study and protocol was designed to determine students’ food selection and intake habits following implementation of school food policies that increased the healthfulness of cafeteria offerings.
The protocol includes a detailed assessment of the type and amounts of leftover food on each students’ tray after the meal is finished in order to understand more about preferences, tastes, and waste.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Division of Community Health, Research Surveillance and Evaluation Branch recently identified the LA County Plate Waste Assessment as the most appropriate instrument for the evaluation of nutrition interventions in school and early care education settings. As a result they are encouraging CDC awardees to use the same instrument and method developed by Dr. McCarthy and his team.
Developing the protocol required time, trial-and-error, and many volunteer hours, says Dr. McCarthy. “There were few details available about previously used protocols, so we ended up making changes as we implemented … it’s a labor-intensive protocol, but we’re very pleased that the CDC finds it useful.”
Read about the food waste assessment protocol published in the Preventive Medicine article "Student receptivity to new school meal offerings: Assessing fruit and vegetable waste among middle school students in the Los Angeles Unified School District."
Read more in the UCLA Kaiser Center for Health Equity July 2015 newsletter