Degree Type


Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Apparel, Events and Hospitality Management


Hospitality Management

First Advisor

Susan W. Arendt


This study explored motivators for purchasing school lunches, preparing packed lunches, and items selected for packed lunches. A mixed methods approach was used whereby interviews were conducted followed by questionnaire development and distribution.

Interviews were conducted with 19 guardians of elementary-aged children. Results from the interviews were as follows: children appeared to influence guardians' decision to purchase school lunches, prepare packed lunches, and select the items for packed lunches; but ultimately, the guardian made the final decision. There was concern for the child to eat lunch and remain satiated throughout the day regardless of whether the child purchased or brought a packed a lunch. Convenience was also a motivator for purchasing school lunches and selecting items for packed lunches. Cost and external influencers were also identified.

Interview results informed questionnaire development. Additionally, the Self-Determination Theory (SDT) was used as underpinnings to assess intrinsic motivation for preparing a packed lunch with four subscales: (1) interest and enjoyment, (2) perceived choice, (3) perceived competence, and (4) pressure tension. Analysis was conducted on 337 questionnaires. Respondents either purchased school lunches (52%) or prepared packed lunches (48%) more often. When purchasing school lunches, respondents were motivated by their perceived choice (M=6.09; SD=.730), competence in their ability (M=5.11; SD=.976), and did not feel pressure or tension when making the decision (M=5.53; SD=.996), on a scale of 1 (strongly disagree) to 7 (strongly agree). Perceived competence (M=5.14; SD=1.19) and perceived choice (M=4.71; SD=1.49) appeared to be the motivators for preparing packed lunches. Items selected for packed lunches often included the center of the plate (83.75%), fruit (78.62%), and snack food (68.13%). If snack foods were selected, respondents were more likely to pack desserts (r=.253) and less likely to pack fruits (r=-.178) and vegetables (r=-.193). The preferences of the child (M=4.80, SD=0.628), desire for the child to be satiated (M=4.75, SD=0.750), and concern for healthfulness (M=4.66, SD=0.614) were the top motivators for selecting items for lunches based on a scale of 1 (unlikely to influence) to 5 (very likely to influence). Results from three of the four SDT subscales indicated intrinsic motivation to prepare a packed lunch.


Copyright Owner

Sarah L Dhillon



File Format


File Size

159 pages

Available for download on Tuesday, June 15, 2021