Date of Award
Doctor of Philosophy
Apparel, Events and Hospitality Management
Catherine H. Strohbehn
School foodservice directors (FSDs) and school business officials (SBOs) in public school districts with enrollments between 2,500 and 25,000 in the USDA Mid-Atlantic geographic region provided responses to a paper-and-pencil survey. The FSDs assessed the level of implementation of a mandated school food safety plan in their districts and perceived administrative support and also identified the district's food safety training efforts. These findings were compared with SBOs identified knowledge and levels of support for the district's child nutrition program. These variables along with FSD and SBO demographic data and district characteristics were analyzed to determine if significant differences existed in their perceptions.
Responses were received from one third of the sample of Mid-Atlantic region districts' (N = 498) FSDs (n = 166) and a little less than 20% of the SBOs (n = 91). Study results found half of the FSDs and one third of SBOs identified the existence of a board-level district policy about food safety. Both groups rated highly the importance of such a policy, with means greater than 4.0 (FSDs, M = 4.37; SBOs, M = 4.176) on a 5-point scale ranging from 1 (very unimportant) to 5 (very important). The FSDs placed more importance on the need for policies to address foods from home than did SBOs, yet there were no significant differences in the perceptions of either FSDs or SBOs about the importance of district food safety policies from all respondents or between FSDs and SBOs from the same district.
The FSDs reported food safety plans as fairly complete (M = 4.67) based on the presence of written standard operating procedures (SOPs) addressing specific items and recordkeeping documentation. However, less than one third of respondents documented the use of prerequisite programs. The majority did indicate compliance with semiannual inspections and posting of inspection reports.
Close to half of the SBOs in the Mid-Atlantic region were unfamiliar with or not knowledgeable about the food safety component of the Reauthorization Act of 2004. Those SBOs with knowledge of the mandate reported learning of the requirements of the legislation through the school FSD, state agency, or other SBOs.
Foodservice directors reported district administration was generally supportive for training but neutral on the importance of training for foodservice staff and offered minimal financial support for such training. FSDs and SBOs both identified most frequently that a state or federal agency mandate for requirement of food safety training would positively influence district administrative support and funding for this purpose.
Findings from this study suggest greater need for the adoption of district board-level policies relating to safety of all foods served on school grounds, regardless of preparation location. This study also showed a need for districts to develop and adopt SOPs to guide procedures for food preparation, service, and sales district-wide and to provide training for the FSD and all school staff about food safety and changes in child nutrition program regulations.
Several limitations were identified in this study including reliance on self-reported data and possible misrepresentation from the population, the local district's policy on survey participation, and method of distribution and collection of the paper survey. Recommendations for future studies include assessing the effectiveness of an educational module about child nutrition programs and food safety as a component of school administrator licensing or certification programs and effectiveness of child nutrition programs as related to funded and unfunded mandates recommended in the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010.
Cynthia Ann Dawso Van Druff
Dawso Van Druff, Cynthia Ann, "Implementation of school districts' food safety plans and perceptions of support for food safety and training in child nutrition programs in one USDA region" (2012). Graduate Theses and Dissertations. 12309.