Food Survey - Executive Summary

JUNE 2, 2006

The KLSD Food Committee conducted four surveys from March-May, 2006 that were designed to measure the attitudes toward our present food services being provided to various constituent groups.  Prior to its administration, this survey underwent several rounds of revision, pilot testing and further revisions to increase the probability that the responses were valid, objective and reliable.  Responses were collected and analyzed electronically and the original surveys as well as the full results can be viewed in the Appendix.

The four surveys consisted of 8-13 questions, depending on the audience, and were administered to teachers and administrators (a total of 222 responses, which represents 58% of this population), KLSD 4th grade students (a total of 273 responses, which represents 81% of this population), KLSD middle school students, almost all of whom were 7th graders (a  total of 350 responses, which represents 95% of this population), KLSD high school students, almost all of whom were 10th graders (a total of 253 responses, which represents 72% of this population), KLSD elementary school parents (a total of 415 responses, which represents 31% of all parents with a child in at least one of the elementary schools), KLSD middle school parents (a total of 312 responses, which represents 59% of this population), and KLSD high school parents (a total of 299 responses, which represents 33% of this population).  In all, a total of 2,124 survey responses were collected.

This survey was designed to measure the extent to which each respondent agreed or disagreed with each statement posed.  A score of one was the lowest possible score and indicated that the respondent “Strongly Disagreed” with the statement posed; a score of two indicated that the respondent “Disagreed”; a score of three indicated that the respondent was “Neutral” toward the statement; a score of four indicated that the respondent “Agreed”; and a score of five indicated that the respondent “Strongly Agreed” with the statement posed.  To avoid skewing the results in cases where the statement did not apply, participants were permitted to select “Not Applicable / Don’t Know” for each statement. 

For each statement there is a “Response Average” that is based on the summative numerical value of the respondents’ selections divided by the number of total responses to each question.  Responses in the “Not Applicable / Don’t Know” category were not given a score and therefore were not included in the average.  Numbers in bold represent the most frequent response (mode) to the statement posed.  The “Response Average” was used to interpret these data.

Overall, the responses to specific questions in each survey did not indicate strong attitudes in either the positive or negative direction.  Based on the Response Averages, these data indicated that the participants slightly disagreed, were neutral or slightly agreed with the statements posed.  Individuals did have the opportunity to provide additional comments, and 723 participants used that opportunity to express their specific feelings.  Responses to the open ended question overwhelmingly demonstrated less favorable attitudes toward the food and services provided by the KLSD, however these comments only represent 34% of all respondent.    

In general, students, parents and faculty indicated that the foods advertised on the menu were usually available, but they did not feel that the foods, beverages and snacks served in the cafeterias were healthy, or promoted a healthy diet.  Most also did not feel as though sufficient healthy choices were available, and virtually all groups surveyed slightly disagreed when asked if they were satisfied with the food served in the cafeteria.  Responses indicate that the majority would be willing to pay more money for food and snacks that were healthy.    

When surveyed about their feelings toward the cleanliness and appearance of the cafeterias, the students (who obviously spend the most time there) held a slightly negative attitude.  Parents held neutral attitudes toward the same question, and faculty actually felt more positive about the appearance of the cafeterias.  

When asked if students receive messages in school about making healthy food choices and engaging in physical activity, attitudes ranged from slightly agree (at the elementary schools) to slightly disagree (at the high school).  Middle school student responses were neutral on average.  

There was rather strong support from the middle and high school students for elongated hours of cafeteria and vending machine operation.  While these groups and their parents acknowledged that the choices in the vending machines are not healthy, they were neutral with respect to the choices provided.  Most groups surveyed did not feel that sufficient time was provided for students to eat lunch.  

When asked how many days per week students purchase lunch in the cafeteria, approximately 25% stated that they never buy lunch.  Another 25% indicate that they buy lunch every day, and the remaining 50% purchase lunch sporadically throughout the week.  Parent and student responses to this question were very similar indicating that parents are aware of their children’s spending habits for food (although they may not know what they are actually eating).  

As stated previously, approximately 34% of the respondents took the time to write a comment.  These comments were carefully categorized and are summarized below.

The majority of respondents are dissatisfied with the food served in the cafeterias.
Many respondents would like to see better quality food and a greater variety of choices.
Many respondents would like to see healthier, fresher foods available and less fried and processed food choices.
Many respondents would like to see more fresh fruit and vegetable/vegetarian options.
Many parents would like to see all unhealthy snacks, drinks, and foods removed permanently from the cafeterias.
When it comes to price, many students, parents, teachers and administrators want value for their money.
Many elementary and middle school students feel like they do not have enough time to eat lunch.
Any wellness policy adopted by the school district’s Board of Education should provide for a food service program reflective of these survey results, i.e., one in which a variety of fresh, high-quality, healthy foods are sold at an appropriate price and in a way that allows for sufficient time for their consumption.  The KLSD Food Committee would support such a wellness policy to ensure the health and well-being of each student in the district.

KLSD Food Committee
June 2006