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Opportunities for and Limits to Cooperation between School and Families in Sustainable Public Food Procurement

Elena Pagliarino (), Elena Santanera () and Greta Falavigna ()
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Elena Pagliarino: CNR-IRCRES, Research Institute on Sustainable Economic Growth, Italian National Research Council, 10024 Moncalieri, Italy
Elena Santanera: CNR-IRCRES, Research Institute on Sustainable Economic Growth, Italian National Research Council, 10024 Moncalieri, Italy

Sustainability, 2021, vol. 13, issue 16, 1-19

Abstract: This paper describes a research project, carried out in an Italian public school, to assess whether parents were willing to take part in food procurement decisions, as well as their ability to accurately predict what foods children would pick at school lunch and their propensity to support sustainable food choices made by the school. The methodology included a questionnaire, issued to 500 parents, and an in-depth study of 138 child/parent pairs. The study comprised: (i) presentation of an innovative recipe in the weekly menu of the school canteen; (ii) meal observations of children’s intake at school lunch during the week of the menu modification; (iii) collection of both parents’ and children’s reports on their choices of recipes from the modified weekly menu. The results are commented in light of two important changes that have recently affected Italian public school food procurement: the opening of school canteens to lunches brought from home and the measures adopted since 2020 to contain the COVID-19 pandemic. Both events go in the direction of delegating to parents the multifaceted role of the school in the food arena. The article concludes that the results of the study should discourage this approach.

Keywords: school catering; sustainable food; public procurement; parents; children; food choices; involvement; COVID-19 pandemic (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: O13 Q Q0 Q2 Q3 Q5 Q56 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2021
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