Food insecure individuals often consume nutritionally inadequate diets. Using a weighted plate waste analysis, we examined whether adult guests of 2 independently operated meal centers were served and consumed Food and Drug Administration–recommended serving sizes (reference amount customarily consumed; RACC) of protein, starch, fruit, vegetables, and bread for the dinner meal. In both centers, guests were served and consumed more than 100% of RACC for protein. Regardless of amount served and independent of whether guests took seconds, consumption of fruit and vegetables was less than RACC. Larger servings of vegetables, but not of protein or starch, resulted in more plate waste. Guest surveys and informal interviews indicated that amounts served and preparation methods influenced food consumption and waste patterns. In order to provide adequate nutrition and to reduce food waste, meal centers may need to further examine food preparation and serving practices.
Marjorie Freedman and Catherine Bartoli. "Food Intake Patterns and Plate Waste Among Community Meal Center Guests Show Room for Improvement" Journal of Hunger and Environmental Nutrition (2013): 506-515. doi:10.1080/19320248.2013.787380