Led by Strength2Food partner EUTA, during October 2018, children in 32 Serbian primary schools and their parents completed questionnaires on food preferences and attitudes towards food. Just over 4,000 children and over 3,000 parents completed questionnaires. Schools taking part in the project are now receiving feedback on the results of their children’s food preferences. In addition to an overall report on findings from the children’s food preference questionnaire, reports for individual schools are also being prepared. The overall report, together with accompanying graphics will go on Strength2Food’s Serbian website, and, with the individual report, will also go to the school director, accompanied by graphics to illustrate the children’s food preferences (for example see figure below right).
These reports describe children’s food preferences for 90 sample foods, across 14 food categories, such as vegetables, fruits, main courses, pasta dishes, and for some schools, reports examine differences amongst food preferences of children who have or don’t have school meals.
Food serving frequencies provided by the school cooks help to identify the direct impact of school meals on children’s food preferences, and children’s food preferences are compared with nutritional values for each food. Children’s food preferences in several schools providing their own lunches are compared with scores for neighbouring schools using a caterer for lunches. Differences in food preferences between children in urban and rural schools have also been analysed, and many differences found between children’s food preferences in urban and rural schools. Reports summarise conclusions and offer advice to schools on how children’s preferences for more nutritious foods can be increased.
Thus, our project’s direct stakeholder beneficiaries in Serbia are now getting feedback to help make improvements in the quality of food in school meals.