Introduction: The food waste analysis in the school canteen context is particularly relevant due to its educational and environmental relevance, the huge number of users and the consequent food amount handled every day. The present study, carried out within the EU H2020-funded Strength2food project, seeks to compare two case studies (Parma vs Lucca), characterised by different primary school food procurement models (local-organic vs organic) in relation to (i) the uneaten edible food served in primary school canteens and (ii) children’s refusal towards the vegetable side dish. Methods: The investigations were performed in 4 primary schools, 2 per case study, during 5 consecutive days in winter and spring, for a total of 40 days of data collection. The aggregate selective plate waste method was applied. Excluding special diets, the uneaten served food was scraped from children’s plates according to 7 food categories (bread, starchy-based dish, protein based-dish, fruit, vegetables, dessert, other). Serving size of edible food was calculated as mean of the weight of 3 servings for each food. Finally, a questionnaire reporting a 5-point Likert scale was used to assess vegetable preferences. Results: With the exception of bread (p ¼ 0.149), with values ranged from 14.5% to 35.7%, the local-organic procurement model (Parma) has shown a significantly lower percentage of waste for most of the food categories compared to the organic model (Lucca), whose proportions ranged from 11.8% to 55.5%. The starchy-based dish, the protein-based dish and fruit gave higher wastes per child in Lucca, where a higher fraction of children (38%) compared to Parma (18%) did not appreciate at all the vegetables. Conclusions: The obtained results suggest that a wider inclusion of products originating in the territory in the school food provision can contribute to a greater acceptability of the school menus and consequently to a lower food waste.
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