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Pupils' and parents' suggestions for developing school meals in Finland

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Purpose ‐ The purpose of this paper is to describe self-reported and estimated school meal consumption patterns of the pupils and introduces the pupils' and their parents' suggestions for developing the school meals in Finland with respect to the plate model. Design/methodology/approach ‐ "Food choice view" concerning school meals, previous studies on developing school meals, and the plate model are briefly illustrated. The empirical data were collected in 2007 from four comprehensive schools. A total of 168 6th-9th graders and their 83 parents returned the questionnaires. Findings ‐ The findings indicate that the pupils do not eat all the items of the plate model. The pupils and their parents gave the following suggestions on how to develop free school meals: more favourite dishes; more alternatives from which to choose; salads to be served as components; wider selection of salads; chilled milk, lactose-free and fat-free milk served with soft white bread, brown bread as well as rolls; finally, serve different components such as cold cuts on the bread. Practical implications ‐ The practical implications are that the pupils' and the parents' desires and wishes could be consulted more often and the municipal budget should be taken into account. Originality/value ‐ The pupils' self-reported school meal consumption patterns indicate that the intake of the items belonging to the plate model could be increased by serving the pupils' favourite dishes, which could be of great importance to those in charge of health education and school catering organisations.
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Keywords: Consumer behaviour; Diet; Finland; Parents; Pupils; Schools

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 2009-05-16

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