Honors Theses

Date of Award


Document Type

Undergraduate Thesis


Nutrition and Hospitality Management

First Advisor

Laurel Lambert

Relational Format



The Mississippi Healthy Students Act passed in 2007, with the intention of addressing childhood obesity and improving the school nutrition environment. While polices target foods offered through school meals and vending, foods allowed in the classroom have not been addressed. The purpose of this research was to investigate elementary teachers’ practices of allowing foods of low nutritional value in the classroom for special occasions, as rewards for academic achievement and as incentives for good behavior. During fall of 2012, 277 teachers from 10 public schools completed surveys. Descriptive statistics were used to calculate percentage of agreement and disagreement to questions regarding teachers’ perspective toward foods allowed in the classroom. Results showed that 63.0% of teachers always or often allow foods of low nutritional value for special occasions, with 27.7% allowing for rewards, and 25.8% allowing for incentives. Interestingly a large percentage of teachers stated they have autonomy on deciding what foods they allow in the classroom for special occasions (91.3%), rewards (89.8%), and incentives (88.7%). The majority of teachers do not believe that allowing foods of low nutritional value for special occasions (53.5%), rewards (64%) or incentives (61.6%) impacts the overall school nutrition environment. Discussions should ensue as to how the lack of policies regarding foods of low nutritional value allowed in the classroom can possibly impact childhood obesity or the quality of the school nutrition environment.



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