Date of Award

8-1-2011

Degree Name

Master of Science

Department

Food and Nutrition

First Advisor

Smith, Sylvia

Second Advisor

Long, Sara

Abstract

AN ABSTRACT OF THE THESIS OF Danielle Wleklinski, for the Master of Science degree in Food and Nutrition, presented on December 7, 2010, at Southern Illinois University Carbondale. TITLE: ILLINOIS SCHOOL FOODSERVICE EMPLOYEES' AND PURCHASERS' PERCEIVED BENEFITS, OBSTACLES, AND ATTITUDES TO PURCHASING MORE LOCAL FOODS MAJOR PROFESSOR: Dr. Sylvia Smith Due to the recent surge in environmental consciousness and childhood obesity, Farm to School Programs have gained interest. Previous research studies indicate school foodservice purchasers perceive benefits and obstacles to purchasing local foods (32,74,78,80-81). However, no studies have investigated school foodservice employees' perceptions to benefits, obstacles, and interest to purchasing local food, and if purchasers view benefits and obstacles differently based on school size. Our study sought to further understand perceived benefits, obstacle and attitudes to purchasing local food among school foodservice employees and purchasers. Our study (N=151) found purchasers and employees agree to 13 benefits and 16 obstacles to purchasing local food. Purchasers from large- and medium-size schools perceive less "less use of pesticides" and "ability to know product sources" as stronger benefits to purchasing local food and perceive "cost of food", "adequate volume", "reliable supply of food quantity", "payment arrangement", and "packing material" as stronger obstacles to purchasing local food (p<≤>¡Ü05). Results also show purchasers and employees are interested in receiving training to prepare and serve more local foods; however, purchasers only slightly agree they have resources to train their employees to prepare more meals with local foods and slightly disagree they are willing to pay more for local foods. Results suggest training programs may be needed to encourage local food procurement in schools. Further research should be performed to validate this study's findings; if differences in purchasers' perceived benefits and obstacles based on school size are identified, researchers should investigate where differences lie and why they exist.

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