The purpose of this study was to examine teacher perception of student school meal preferences in an elementary school setting. This was a cross-sectional mixed-methods study that is part of a larger study to develop a nutrition education program for elementary school children. Focus groups and surveys were administered to faculty at a charter school in downtown Orlando to gain insight into the types of food offered at school and student response to these food items. All members of the faculty were invited to participate in the study, and seven teachers volunteered to take part in this study. Focus groups were recorded using tape recorders; they were then transcribed verbatim and coded independently by two research assistants.

Results of this study showed that according to members of faculty, overall, the food served in school during breakfast and lunch is of poor quality. Portion sizes were acceptable according to participants, however, there is still too much food is being wasted. The students do not respond well to breakfast or lunch, which has adversely affected the academic performance of students as well as their classroom behavior due to hunger and low energy levels. It was also noted that older children expressed interest in learning about topics pertaining to nutrition.

This study is the first stage of a larger initiative to develop nutrition education programs and to encourage conversation regarding school meal reform, especially as it pertains to those individuals of low socioeconomic status. The implications for this study could be beneficial for a wide-range of children who attend school on a daily basis.

Thesis Completion




Thesis Chair/Advisor

Garcia, Jeanette


Bachelor of Science (B.S.)


College of Community Innovation and Education


Health and Human Sciences

Degree Program

Sport and Exercise Science


Orlando (Main) Campus



Access Status

Open Access

Release Date