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Guide for Conducting Research:

Lunch Group
Background and Purpose
The new USDA breakfast and lunch regulations have required an increase in the variety
and types of nutritious foods offered to students. There has also been a national push to increase
breakfast consumption in children, such as through programs like breakfast in the classroom.
Chartwells is interested in studying what we can do to improve student school meal participation
and increase student consumption of the healthy foods being offered to them. To accomplish this,
Chartwells has partnered with the Cornell Center for Behavioral Economics in Child Nutrition
Programs (the B.E.N. Center) in their initiative called the Smarter Lunchrooms Movement.
The B.E.N. Center has found that certain point of sale product identifiers may have an effect on
student choice. They have also found that allowing students the ability to choose, even from a
limited selection of foods, may improve consumption.
This study is unique as interns will collect plate waste measurements in the Chartwells
classrooms and lunchrooms in addition to production and sales records. Only by measuring
what foods are wasted can we truly determine what foods are most and least consumed by
students. We appreciate your contributions to this exciting study!
Cornell Contact
Kathryn Hoy, MFN, RD, CDN
Chartwells Dietetic Internship 2014-2015

Study Overview
The study will be carried out over each interns 8-week School Nutrition Management
rotation in a Chartwells school district. Interns will receive training prior to their rotation about
how to collect plate waste and conduct interventions. All interns will collect only a sample of
plate waste at each school. The study should be completed concurrently with the other rotation
assignments, and projects should be coordinated around the plate waste measurements whenever
possible to utilize time efficiently. Each intern will be assigned two schools to study, selected by
the operations preceptor and Cornell researchers prior to the intern arriving. Each district will
also be assigned (by Cornell) to one of the study groups below:
Breakfast in the Classroom (BIC)
Lunch with Nutrition Product Identifiers (PIDs)
Lunch with PIDs and Functional Messages

About the Lunch with Nutrition PIDs Group

Interns in districts assigned to this group will study the impact of posting nutrition
information on the serving line. The intervention will involve displaying PIDs that contain basic
nutrition information for fruit and vegetable menu items in one school, while the other school in
the study will serve as a control (no intervention). The PIDs will be automatically generated from
Webtrition and will include Calories, Total Fat, Carbohydrate, and Protein.

About Plate Waste Collection

Plate waste in this study is defined as the quantity of edible portions of food served
through the USDA school nutrition programs, such as the School Breakfast Program (SBP), that
students discard daily. Plate waste research allows us to determine with a great degree of
certainty how much of the food we provide to students is actually consumed. This data can be
collected in a variety of ways in this study we will be observing the waste from a sample of
meals in each school, once a week, for the duration of the 4 week study. Interns will record the
weight of each food item on the menu on the day plate waste is to be collected and collect
records from the kitchen documenting how much of each item was prepared. All of this
information together will allow researchers to draw conclusions regarding the food students have
consumed at that meal, and about student lunch consumption patterns in general.