Childhood obesity is a significant public health concern and schools are a key setting for prevention. The majority of U.S. children are enrolled in school where they consume a large portion of their daily energy. Farm-to-school programs are a promising strategy for preventing childhood obesity in school-aged children. The overall objective of this study was to conduct a baseline assessment of Alaska school food service professionals' perspectives of using local foods. Specific objectives were to: 1) Assess interest in utilizing local foods, 2) Identify perceived barriers to purchasing local foods, and 3) Determine resources needed to facilitate local food procurement. A survey was administered to all school food service professionals in Alaska (n = 74) who oversee the National School Lunch Program in their program site or district. The survey consisted of open and close-ended questions, comprising six domains: interest, perceived benefits, perceived usefulness, perceived barriers, and future needs. Descriptive statistics were performed on all variables. The majority (80-96%) of school food service professionals reported interest in utilizing local foods in the school meal programs. School food service professional's reported concern with finding a reliable supply (67%) and the cost (46%) of locally sourced foods. Nearly all (92%) school food service professional's agreed that information about what foods are available, where to purchase them, and USDA purchasing regulations would be useful. Farm-to-school strategies are attainable in Alaska. Interest is high, and perceived barriers and challenges are consistent with national findings. The most useful resources identified could be accommodated through increased communication and use of existing resources.
|School:||University of Alaska Fairbanks|
|School Location:||United States -- Alaska|
|Source:||MAI 52/02M(E), Masters Abstracts International|
|Subjects:||Food Science, Nutrition, Sustainability, Health education|
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