Exploring Australian children's perceptions of a school-provided lunch model using a story completion method

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Children in Australia currently bring a packed lunch to school from home. Many children are not consuming a healthy diet at school. There is interest from key stakeholders (e.g. education and the non-government sector, food service and parents/caregivers) to transform the Australian system to a school-provided model to improve children's diets, reduce parental burden and address food insecurity. To facilitate a successful transition to this system, it is important to consider the views of the children. We aimed to explore Australian primary school children's perceptions of a hypothetical school-provided lunch model. To achieve this aim, we undertook a qualitative study using the story completion method. Twenty-one grade-five children, from one public primary school in South Australia, participated in a once-off data collection session. Children were given a brief story stem and asked to complete a story about a hypothetical school-provided lunch scenario. The story data were analysed using thematic analysis. Four main themes were generated: the eating environment, the food provided, processes of the mealtime and time. The desire for choice was an additional overarching theme that cut across all themes. Our study provides the first exploration of South Australian children's perceptions of hypothetical school-provided meals. These insights can be used to co-design an acceptable school food system with children to create a positive eating environment that supports healthy eating habits they can carry forward into adulthood.

Original languageEnglish
Article numberdaad118
Number of pages11
JournalHealth promotion international
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2023


  • children
  • qualitative
  • school food
  • school-provided lunch
  • story completion


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