The Comfortable Cafeteria Program for Promoting Student Participation and Enjoyment: An Outcome Study

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Abstract

A mixed-methods design was used to explore the outcomes of a 6-wk, occupational therapist–led Comfortable Cafeteria program designed to build cafeteria supervisors' and students' capacity to create a positive mealtime environment so that all students can successfully participate in and enjoy a healthy meal and socialization with peers. Students whose scores were in the low and mid-range at the outset had statistically significant improvements in pretest–posttest visual analog scale ratings of participation and enjoyment. Cafeteria supervisors demonstrated statistically significant improvements in their perceptions of knowledge and skills to supervise and to encourage healthy eating. Qualitative findings add further insight into the program, suggesting that students learned prosocial values (e.g., being kind, helping others), supervisors actively encouraged positive social interaction, and occupational therapists enjoyed implementing the program and recognized positive supervisor and student changes as a result of integrating services in the cafeteria.

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