Research Article
Volume 17 Issue 3 - 2022
Are Individuals Who Serve Healthy Meals to Our School Children Actually Healthy Themselves?
Catherine H Carmichael1*, Derek C Miketinas2, H Raymond Allen3 and Catherine M Champagne4
1Project Manager, Dietary Assessment and Nutrition Counseling, Pennington Biomedical Research Center, Baton Rouge, Louisiana, USA
2Assistant Professor, Texas Woman’s University, Houston, Texas, USA
3Manager of Population Health Intervention Information System, Computing Services, Pennington Biomedical Research Center, Baton Rouge, Louisiana, USA
4Professor, Dietary Assessment and Nutrition Counseling, Pennington Biomedical Research Center, Baton Rouge, Louisiana, USA
*Corresponding Author: Catherine H Carmichael, Pennington Biomedical Research Center, Baton Rouge, Louisiana, USA.
Received: November 22, 2021; Published: February 28, 2022


Background: There is very little research examining school foodservice employees' health status and quality of life. In the Southern United States, many of Louisiana's school foodservice employees have obesity and potential comorbidities. More than 25% of Louisiana children and adolescents have overweight or obesity and consume one-third of their energy intake at school. More than 75% of child nutrition personnel in the state of Louisiana are overweight or obese.

Objective: We conducted focus groups and administered a survey both focusing on the health and the influence of the workplace on health with an overall objective of developing a future wellness intervention for child nutrition personnel.

Design: An objective cross-sectional survey design was used via self-reported surveys including the NCI Fruit and Vegetable Screener. Qualitative data on personal health and wellness were obtained via focus groups from a subset of the survey respondents. Focus group recruitment was determined by stratified cluster sampling whereby the total population was divided into clusters and then into three strata: elementary, middle and high schools. Clusters were randomly chosen to identify a target of 125 focus group participants. One cluster included administrative staff. Each selected cluster of participants was asked to attend a focus group that lasted approximately 1 - 1.5 hours. A total of 122 Child Nutrition employees from 18 schools and the administrative office participated in focus groups consisting of 6 - 12 people.

Participant/Setting: Survey participants were school foodservice personnel (n = 363) from a large metropolitan school system in Louisiana serving more than 50,000 meals per day. The survey was administered in conjunction with a large in-service training. Focus groups described above were conducted at elementary, middle school and high school cafeterias as well as the central office for the school system child nutrition program. All research activities were completed by May 2018.

Main Outcome Measures: Obesity status, health conditions, barriers to work performance, descriptive data to describe perceptions, insights, attitudes, experiences and beliefs about health and wellness with a unique occupational group was collected.

Statistical Analyses Performed: Analysis of variance and sum of squares were used when comparing questions about fruit and vegetable intake from the National Cancer Institute Fruit and Vegetable Screener and the survey question, “I usually eat the school lunch meal prepared at our school”. Significance level was set at P < 0.05.

Results: The participants were predominantly non-smokers; more than 50% had high blood pressure, almost 20% had diabetes, and 23% had elevated cholesterol levels. Focus group findings pointed to physical mobility and stress as significant barriers to wellness and optimum work performance. Those reporting that they "usually eat school lunch" ate 1.11 more fruit/veg servings on average compared to those who didn't. “Usually consuming school lunch" was associated with lunchtime fruit and vegetable intake (p < 0.038).

Conclusion: School foodservice employees who actively choose to be more health conscious regarding diet and more physically active may be role models for children and teens. Clearly, there are intervention possibilities to pursue with this population.


Keywords: Child Nutrition Professional; School Foodservice; Employee Wellness; Adult Weight Management; Evidence-Based Guidelines


  1. Child Nutrition Personnel Health and Wellness Needs Assessment Survey Louisiana Understands the Needs of Child Nutrition Training Survey 2015. IRB Approval August 13, 2018.
  2. Pennington Biomedical Research Center, Louisiana’s 2012 Report Card on Physical Activity and Health for Children and Youth.
  3. Pannell-Martin D and Boettger JA. School Food and Nutrition Service Management. 6th Aiken, SC: BookMasters (2014): 243.
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Citation: Catherine M Champagne., et al. “Are Individuals Who Serve Healthy Meals to Our School Children Actually Healthy Themselves?”. EC Nutrition 17.3 (2022): 22-32.

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